It has been shown previously both in vitro and in vivo that microbeam irradiation (MBI) can control malignant tumour cells more effectively than the clinically established concepts of broad beam irradiation. With the aim to extend the international capacity for microbeam research, the first MBI experiment at the biomedical beamline SYRMEP of the Italian synchrotron facility ELETTRA has been conducted. Using a multislit collimator produced by the company TECOMET, arrays of quasi-parallel microbeams were successfully generated with a beam width of 50 mu m and a centre-to-centre distance of 400 mu m. Murine melanoma cell cultures were irradiated with a target dose of approximately 65 Gy at a mean photon energy of similar to 30 keV with a dose rate of 70 Gy s(-1) and a peak-to-valley dose of similar to 123. This work demonstrated a melanoma cell reduction of approximately 80% after MBI. It is suggested that, while a high energy is essential to achieve high dose rates in order to deposit high treatment doses in a short time in a deep-seated target, for in vitro studies and for the treatment of superficial tumours a spectrum in the lower energy range might be equally suitable or even advantageous.