Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a potent growth factor for various epithelial cells including mature hepatocytes and renal tubular cells. When 70% of the rat liver was excised, HGF mRNA in the intact lung markedly increased at 6 h later, then decrease to normal levels at 24 h. A similar marked increase of HGF mRNA was found in the lung of rats with hepatitis induced by CCl4. Moreover HGF mRNA in the intact lung also increased to about a 5 times higher level than the normal, within 12 h after unilateral nephrectomy. Isolated alveolar macrophages significantly expressed HGF mRNA, yet the amount remained unchanged after injury of the liver. The marked increase of HGF mRNA in lungs of partially hepatectomized rats remained even after removal of alveolar macrophages. In situ hybridization showed a marked increase of HGF mRNA signal found in endothelial cells in the lung after partial hepatectomy. We postulate that endothelial cells in the lung recognize damage of distal organs through a mediator and that lung-derived HGF may contribute to tissue repair or regeneration of injured organs, through endocrine-related mechanisms.