VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), one of the most potent angiogenic factors, has recently been identified as an inducer of neoangiogenesis in many tumors including gliomas. VEGF itself appears to be regulated through different pathways. Since malignant gliomas frequently show EGF receptor amplification and express IL-1, a pivotal regulatory cytokine involved in angiogenesis, we analyzed interactions between EGF/EGF receptor and IL-1/IL-1 receptor and VEGF in the established glioblastoma cell lines U-87 MG and A-172. Basal VEGF expression was an order of magnitude higher in U-87 MG compared to A-172. IL-1 caused a fast and strong increase of VEGF secretion in U-87 MG which appeared to harbor an intracellular VEGF pool for enhanced exocytosis. The IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1-ra) reversed this effect suggesting an IL-1 receptor-associated mechanism. In contrast, VEGF secretion could not be increased by exogenous IL-1 exposure in A-172, which apparently lacked an intracellular VEGF pool for augmented exocytosis. However, IL-1-ra treatment alone caused a significant reduction of basal VEGF secretion in both U-87 MG and A-172. This suggests that baseline secretion of VEGF involves IL-1 receptor activation by endogenously produced IL-1. EGF also stimulated the secretion of VEGF into the cell supernatant. However, this effect, observed in both U-87 MG and A-172, was delayed and only occurred following replenishment of the intracellular VEGF pool. EGF upregulated the amount of VEGF mRNA. In general, the effects of IL-1 and EGF on VEGF were additive, suggesting independent mechanisms. Since IL-1 appears to be involved in VEGF secretion in glial tumors through an autocrine/paracrine mechanism, recombinant human IL-1-ra may evolve as a new agent for anti-angiogenic glioma therapy.