Recently, we observed that Met, the receptor for hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF), is overexpressed in epithelial cells of both early-appearing intestinal metaplastic glands in precancerous hepatic cholangiofibrotic tissue and neoplastic glands in later developed intestinal-type of cholangiocarcinoma originated from the furan rat model of cholangiocarcinogenesis when compared with normal and hyperplastic intrahepatic biliary epithelia. We now show that HGF/SF is also aberrantly expressed in a manner closely paralleling that of its receptor in the neoplastic epithelial cells of furan-induced rat cholangiocarcinomas and in a majority of metaplastic epithelial cells within earlier formed precancerous hepatic cholangiofibrotic tissue. Using in situ hybridization and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we further showed specific expression of HGF/SF messenger RNA (mRNA) in a novel rat cholangiocarcinoma epithelial cell line overexpressing Met. This cholangiocarcinoma cell line, termed C611B, was established from tumorigenic cells isolated from a furan-induced transplantable tumor. Moreover, we detected by in situ hybridization strong expression of HGF/SF mRNA transcripts in the cancerous epithelial glands of cholangiocarcinoma developed in recipient rats after in vivo cell transplantation of C611B cells. In contrast, mRNA transcripts and protein immunoreactivity for this cytokine were not detected in hepatocytes and biliary epithelial cells in adult normal rat liver nor in rat hyperplastic intrahepatic biliary epithelium. Our results clearly show that HGF/SF becomes aberrantly expressed in cholangiocarcinoma epithelium and in putative precancerous intestinal metaplastic epithelium induced in the liver of furan-treated rats.