Angiogenesis is essential for tumour growth and important in metastasis and for prognosis in invasive carcinoma of the breast. Two patterns of increased vascularity have been shown in mammary ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): a cuff of vessels close to the involved ducts, and vessels in the interductal stroma. Inflammation may potentially promote angiogenesis by release of angiogenic factors and digestive enzymes. A correlation has previously been found between the intensity of perivascular inflammation and stromal vascularity in DCIS, but no strong relationship has been observed between inflammation and angiogenesis in invasive carcinoma. Tumour angiogenesis is regulated by a number of angiogenic factors, including thymidine phosphorylase (platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor), which is expressed at high levels in macrophages. Using immunohistochemical methods, thymidine phosphorylase expression and vascularity have been studied in DCIS (n = 34) and invasive carcinoma (n = 32). Stromal vascularity in DCIS was associated with thymidine phosphorylase expression in the perivascular inflammatory cells and in the cytoplasm of carcinoma cells. In invasive carcinoma, no relationship was found between vascularity and thymidine phosphorylase expression in either the carcinoma or the inflammatory cells. This study suggests that thymidine phosphorylase expression in both inflammatory and carcinoma cells may contribute to one of the patterns of vascularity in DCIS, but not in invasive disease.