The alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) receptor (melanocortin type 1 receptor, or MC1R) plays an important role in the development and growth of melanoma cells. It was found that MC1R was overexpressed on most murine and human melanoma, making it a promising molecular target for melanoma imaging and therapy. Radiolabeled α-MSH peptide and its analogs that can specifically bind with MC1R have been extensively explored for developing novel agents for melanoma detection and radionuclide therapy. The goal of this study was to evaluate a 64Cu-labeled α-MSH analog, Ac-Nle-Asp-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-Gly-Lys(DOTA)-NH2 (DOTA-NAPamide), as a potential molecular probe for microPET imaging of melanoma and MC1R expression in melanoma xenografted mouse models. 1,4,7,10- tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA) conjugated NAPamide was synthesized and radiolabeled with 64Cu (t1/2=12 h) in NH4OAC (0.1 M; pH 5.5) buffered solution for 60 min at 50°C. Cell culture studies reveal rapid and high uptake and internalization of 64Cu-DOTA-NAPamide in B16F10 cells. Over 90% of receptor-bound tracer is internalized at 3 h incubation. A cellular retention study demonstrates that the receptor-bound 64Cu-DOTA-NAPamide is slowly released from the B16F10 cells into the medium; 66% of the radioactivity is still associated with the cells even after 3 h incubation. The biodistribution of 64Cu- DOTA-NAPamide was then investigated in C57BL/6 mice bearing subcutaneous murine B16F10 melanoma tumors with high capacity of MC1R and Fox Chase Scid mice bearing human A375M melanoma with a relatively low number of MC1R receptors. Tumor uptake values of 64Cu-DOTA-NAPamide are found to be 4.63 ± 0.45% and 2.49 ± 0.31% ID/g in B16F10 and A375M xenografted melanoma at 2 h postinjection (pi), respectively. The B16F10 tumor uptake at 2 h pi is further inhibited to 2.29 ± 0.24% ID/g, while A375M tumor uptake at 2 h pi remains 2.20 ± 0.41% ID/g with a coinjection of excess α-MSH peptide. MicroPET imaging of 64Cu-DOTA-NAPamide in B16F10 tumor mice clearly shows good tumor localization. However, low A375M tumor uptake and poor tumor to normal tissue contrast were observed. This study demonstrates that 64Cu-DOTA-NAPamide is a promising molecular probe for α-MSH receptor positive melanoma PET imaging as well as MC1R expression imaging in living mice.