Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an angiogenic factor that may be involved in tumor growth and metastasis. Only a few data concerning the role of VEGF in renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) are available, and no studies have yet evaluated its prognostic value. The aim of the present study was to assess VEGF expression in a large series of renal tumors with a long follow-up, correlated with the usual histoprognostic factors and survival. VEGF immunostaining was performed on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archival tissue from 74 renal carcinomas (62 conventional renal cell and 12 papillary carcinomas). Positivity of immunostaining was semi-quantitatively scored by two pathologists. Angiogenesis was evaluated by immunostaining with anti-CD34 antibodies on serial sections. Cytoplasmic VEGF expression was detected in tumor cells in 35% (26/74) of RCCs, including 18 out of the 62 (29%) conventional RCCs and 8 out of the 12 (67%) papillary carcinomas (P=0.02). In the group of conventional RCCs, VEGF expression was positively correlated with both nuclear grade (P=0.05) and size of the tumor (P=0.05). Furthermore, a significant correlation was observed between VEGF expression and microvascular count (P=0.04). Finally, cumulative survival rate was significantly lower in the group of patients with conventional RCCs expressing VEGF (log rank test, P=0.01). In the Cox model, VEGF expression was a significant independent predictor of outcome, as well as stage and nuclear grade. This study suggests that VEGF is involved in angiogenesis in conventional RCCs and appears to be a potential prognostic factor in these tumors.