This study investigated the numbers of melanocytic nevi in Turkish children and adolescents. The research was conducted on 2783 subjects (age range, 7-14 yrs) at three elementary schools in Malatya, Turkey (latitude 38 degrees N). Numbers of melanocytic nevi per subject were counted using a standard international protocol. Comparisons were made with subjects categorized according to age, sex and skin type. The mean melanocytic nevus count was 1.07 +/- 2.37. A significant positive correlation was found between nevus count and age (p < 0.001). The mean count for boys was significantly higher than that for girls (p < 0.001). Subjects with skin type 11 had a higher mean melanocytic nevus count than the other three groups. This is the first study related to numbers of melanocytic nevi in Turkey. The findings reveal that Turkish children and adolescents have few melanocytic nevi compared to those elsewhere in the world. In line with previous reports on other populations, analysis showed that older age, skin type 11, and male sex are associated with higher melanocytic nevus counts. The results underline the importance of ethnic background in melanocytic nevus development.