In three different endothelial cell (EC) cultures (primary human umbilical cord vein, so-called HUVEC; and immortalized cell lines HBMEC and EA-hy-926), the effects of different xenobiotics were studied in order to standardize vascular EC models for in vitro pharmacotoxicological studies. Cell characteristics were first investigated by the production and the mRNA levels of known endothelial markers in the three EC culture models. EC secretory products, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and von Willebrand factor (vWF), were present in the supernatant of the immortalized cell lines. The mRNA levels of vWF, tPA, platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1/CD31), and beta -integrin subunit, which are involved in the control of platelet function, coagulation, and fibrinolysis as well as in cell-matrix interactions, were investigated in all EC types. For at least three parameters, cultured cells provided marked characteristics of EC phenotype, in HUVEC and in immortalized cell lines, regardless of their origin from the macro- or microcirculation. Toxicity experiments were assessed after 24 h exposure to cadmium, cyclosporin A and cisplatin by MTT assay. These experiments show nonsignificant difference in susceptibility to cyclosporin A and cadmium on HUVEC, HBMEC, and EA-hy-926. However, HBMEC, seems to be highly susceptible to cisplatin compared to HUVEC, the latter being more sensitive than EA-hy-926. For experiments conducted with cyclosporin and cadmium, cell lines could constitute an alternative material for routine cytotoxicity studies.