Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the principal cause of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM). However, the relation between CMM and UVR exposure is not clear. We present the trends of population exposure to UVR and conduct a time-series analysis of the relation between UVR exposure and incidence of CMM. Data on CMM incidence were obtained from the Finnish Cancer Registry. Clothing coverage of the body was scored from archival photographs and the proportion of uncovered skin was used as a measure of solar exposure. Information on the number of sunny resort holidays, duration of annual holidays, and sunscreen sales were obtained from various sources. Exposed skin area doubled from 1920 to 1985. The average duration of annual holidays increased 30-fold. The number of sunny resort holidays and the sales of sunscreens increased rapidly from 1980. CMM was most strongly associated with solar exposure of 5–19 years earlier. There is a considerable decrease in clothing coverage during the 20th century. UVR exposure preceding CMM occurrence 4 years or less does not appear relevant, whereas the period 5–19 years prior to CMM occurrence might be the most relevant period. However, findings of ecological studies may not be applicable at the individual level.