The purpose of this study was to determine whether the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) and activated EGF-R by tumor-associated endothelial cells is influenced by interaction with specific growth factors in the microenvironment. Different human carcinoma cell lines expressing EGF-R with low or high levels of EGF/transforming growth factor (TGF)-alpha were implanted into orthotopic organs of nude mice. In the EGF/TGF-alpha-positive bladder cancer (253J-BV), pancreatic cancer (L3.6pl), and renal cancer (RBM1-IT) but not in the EGF/TGF-alpha-negative renal cancer SN12-PM6, tumor-associated endothelial cells expressed EGF-R and activated EGF-R. Mice were implanted with human 253J-BV bladder tumors (EGF+) or human SN12-PM6 renal tumors (EGF-). Treatment with oral PKI 166 (a specific inhibitor of EGF-R phosphorylation) alone, intraperitoneal paclitaxel alone (253J-BV), gemcitabine alone (SN12-PM6), or combination of PKI 166 and chemotherapy produced a 60%, 32%, or 81% reduction in the volume of 253J-BV bladder tumors, respectively, and 26%, 23%, or 51% reduction in the volume of SN12-PM6 kidney tumors, respectively. Immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated down-regulation of activated EGF-R in EGF/TGF-alpha-positive and EGF/TGF-alpha-negative lesions from mice treated with PKI 166, although apoptosis of tumor-associated endothelial cells was found only in EGF/TGF-alpha-positive tumors. Collectively, these data suggest that expression of activated EGF-R by tumor-associated endothelial cells provides an important target for therapy.