Background: We present survival outcomes of patients registered in the Dutch population-based Eindhoven Cancer Registry (ECR). Patients and methods: Data on patients diagnosed with a melanoma between 1980 and 2002 were obtained from the ECR. Data on vital status up to 1 January 2005 were obtained, up-to-date survival rates were calculated using period analysis. Multivariate analyses were carried out using Cox proportional hazards model. Results: Ten-year crude survival rates were 82% for women and 60% for men (P < 0.05). Thin melanomas (Breslow thickness ≤ 2.0 mm) had 5-year crude survival rates >74%, for melanomas >4.0 mm these rates were <65% (P < 0.05). In the early 1980s, 5-year relative survival rates were 84% and 62% for young (<60 years) women and men, and 66% and 69%, respectively, for the elderly (aged 60+). In the period 2000-2002, these rates had improved to >90% for females and to >72% for males. Multivariate analyses showed increased hazard ratios with increasing age and Breslow thickness, being male, having a melanoma on the trunk or unknown sites and having a nodular melanoma. Conclusions: Despite the absence of improvements in treatment options for melanoma, survival improved significantly, except for elderly males.