THERE are two types of pigmented cells in normal human skin, the junctional dendritic melanocyte and the intradermal melanosome-phagocytosing melanophage (Fig. 1). In contrast to the melanocyte and its contained melanosome synthesizing process which have been thoroughly investigated, the cellular physiology of the melanophage remains unknown despite recent advances in electron microscopy and gradient biochemistry. The two cells containing melanin appear similar under the light microscope but electron microscopy reveals definite structural differences. The normal melanocyte contains various stages of melanosome synthesis occurring individually in close association with the Golgi apparatus. On the other hand, the actively phagocytosing melanophage concentrates its melanosomes1-3 as degradative conglomerates into specially developed phagocytic vacuoles structurally resembling the lysosomes found in such tissues as kidney, liver and pancreas4,5. Lysosomes were found to be rich in acid phosphatase4,5, which predicted the presence of this hydrolytic enzyme in the phagocytic vacuoles of the dermal melanophage6. We found subsequently that acid phosphatase activity is concentrated in the melanophages and that there is little or no such activity in the melanocytes at the epidermal-dermal junction7. On the other hand, the melanophages contain little if any tyrosinase while the junctional melanocytes are shown to contain an abundance of this oxidative enzyme, primarily within the premelanosomes8. It is further observed with the electron microscope, using the modified Gomori reaction, that the electron opaque accumulation of lead sulphide resulting from acid phosphatase activity occurs primarily in the melanosome-concentrating phagocytic vacuoles of the melanophages7.