The purpose of the study was to identify characteristics specific to tumor-derived endothelium that may be important in tumor biology, or for the development of targeted therapeutics or imaging agents. Normal C57Bl/6 murine heart or lung endothelium, or C57Bl/6 murine Lewis lung carcinoma tumor-derived endothelium was isolated from excised tissues using specific antibodies. The endothelium was cultured using either native fibronectin, or the oncofetal form of fibronectin. Cell surface adhesion molecule expression was analyzed by flow cytometry, and the cellular distribution of specific molecules was examined using indirect immunofluorescence staining. Oncofetal fibronectin was critical for maintaining the phenotype of tumor-derived endothelium, which demonstrated an elongated morphology in vitro, with few cell-cell contacts. They expressed high levels of CD31, CD102, and vascular endothelial cadherin, and constitutively expressed CD62E, CD54, and CD106, indicating an "activated" phenotype. Moreover, they expressed significantly greater levels of Sca-1 and Flk-1 than normal murine endothelium. Cellular distribution of CD31, beta-catenin, and CD106 in tumor-derived endothelium was not continuous at cell borders, as observed in cultures of murine heart endothelium. In conclusion, Lewis lung carcinoma-derived tumor endothelium exhibits a specific phenotype in vitro, distinct from normal endothelium, and could be used as an in vitro tool for developing targeted agents.