Genetic and molecular analyses of Drosophila have shown that tumorigenesis may arise from inactivation of single genes controlling cell growth and differentiation. Recessive mutations in a series of genes interrupt the differentiation of primordial cells and result in overgrowth, producing either hyperplasia or neoplasia. In mutant animals tumours form in either the optic centres of the larval brain, the imaginal discs or the haemopoietic organs. In Drosophila 17 genetic loci giving rise to neoplasia and six loci producing hyperplasia have been identified. The lethal(2)giant larvae gene constitutes the prototype of these genes. Its molecular cloning and analysis have demonstrated that the tumor phenotype results from a lack of gene function. Furthermore, tumour prevention was achieved by introducing a normal copy of l(2)gl into the genome of l(2)gl- deficient animals, showing that the l(2)gl gene behaves as a tumour suppressor or anti-oncogene. Melanomas of genetic origin develop in interspecies hybrids of the fish Xiphophorus. The melanoma appears when a sex linked chromosomal gene (Tu) is present among the progeny animals lacking an autosomal locus Differentiation, which acts as a tumour suppressor gene. A sequence homologous to the erb-B gene can be associated to the sex chromosomal Tu locus. This gene encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase related to the EGF-receptor, and its activation and overexpression are thought to play a critical part in melanoma formation.