We have stably expressed the cDNA encoding the 165 amino-acid long form of human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in BHK-21 cells. VEGF was partially purified from the conditioned medium of transfected cells using heparin-sepharose affinity chromatography. The partially purified VEGF was mitogenic for various types of endothelial cells and inhibited the binding of pure [125I]VEGF to its receptors. Western blot analysis, using anti-VEGF antibodies, revealed a 47 kDa VEGF homodimer in the partially purified VEGF fraction. Preincubation of the transfected cells with the N-glycosylation inhibitor tunicamycin resulted in the conversion of the 47 kDa VEGF homodimer into a smaller, deglycosylated form of 42 kDa. Partially purified preparations of the deglycosylated VEGF displayed a mitogenic activity that was similar to that of the glycosylated form and efficiently inhibited the binding of native [125I]VEGF to the VEGF receptors of bovine aortic arch derived endothelial cells.