We showed expression of the tryptophan hydroxylase gene and of tryptophan hydroxylase protein immunoreactivity in mouse skin and skin cells. Extracts from skin and melanocyte samples acetylated serotonin to N-acetylserotonin and tryptamine to N-acetyltryptamine. A different enzyme from arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase mediated this reaction, as this gene was defective in the C57BL6 mouse, coding predominantly for a protein without enzymatic activity. Serotonin (but not tryptamine) acetylation varied according to hair cycle phase and anatomic location. Serotonin was also metabolized to 5-hydroxytryptophol and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, probably through stepwise transformation catalyzed by monoamine oxidase, aldehyde dehydrogenase and aldehyde reductase. Activity of the melatonin-forming enzyme hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase was notably below detectable levels in all samples of mouse corporal skin, although it was detectable at low levels in the ears and in Cloudman melanoma (derived from the DBA/2 J mouse strain). In conclusion, mouse skin has the molecular and biochemical apparatus necessary to produce and metabolize serotonin and N-acetylserotonin, and its activity is determined by topography, physiological status of the skin, cell type and mouse strain.