Expression of angiogenic and lymphangiogenic factors by tumours may influence the route of metastatic spread. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a regulator of tumour angiogenesis, but studies of the inhibition of solid tumour growth by neutralizing anti-VEGF antibodies indicated that other angiogenic factors may be involved. VEGF-D may be an alternative regulator because like VEGF it is angiogenic and it activates VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2), an endothelial cell receptor which is a key signalling molecule in tumour angiogenesis. This study reports the generation of monoclonal antibodies to the receptor-binding domain of VEGF-D and the use of these antibodies to localize VEGF-D in malignant melanoma. VEGF-D was detected in tumour cells and in vessels adjacent to immunopositive tumour cells, but not in vessels distant from the tumours. These findings are consistent with a model in which VEGF-D, secreted by tumour cells, activates endothelial cell receptors and thereby contributes to the regulation of tumour angiogenesis and possibly lymphangiogenesis. In addition, VEGF-D was detected in the vascular smooth muscle, but not the endothelium, of vessels in adult colon. The endothelium of these vessels was negative for VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3. As VEGF receptors can be up-regulated on endothelium in response to vessel damage and ischaemia, these findings of a specific localization of VEGF-D in smooth muscle of the blood vessels suggest that VEGF-D produced by vascular smooth muscle could play a role in vascular repair by stimulating the proliferation of endothelial cells.