Abstract Objectives. To describe the constitutional risk factors for malignant melanoma and exposure to sunlight in a population sample in Iceland. Methods. Information on various risk factors for malignant melanoma was collected through mailed questionnaires sent to a random sample of the Icelandic population. The information collected was the first phase of a prospective study on malignant melanoma among aircrew members as compared to a population sample. Results. The overall participation rate was about 50%. Seven percent of women and six percent of men had red hair color. Blue or green eye color was reported among 89% of women and 87% of men. Sixteen percent of women aged 20 to 39 had used sun beds more than 100 times during their lifetime, while the corresponding figure was 12% for men of the same age. Younger age groups had more sunny vacations than the older age groups. The frequency of sunburn differed in the groups with reported different skin types according to Fitzpatrick classification. Conclusion. The high prevalence of sun bed usage among young women is concurrent with the increased incidence of malignant melanoma among young women registered in the nationwide cancer registry. Young people have more often used sun beds and taken sunny vacation than the older, indicating a changed behavior in the population.