Tumour angiogenesis is a tightly regulated process involving cross-talk between tumour cells and the host tissue. The underlying mechanisms that regulate such interactions remain largely unknown. NG2 is a transmembrane proteoglycan whose presence on transformed cells has been demonstrated to increase proliferation in vitro and angiogenesis in vivo. To study the effects of NG2 during tumour growth and progression, we engineered an NG2 positive human glioma cell line (U251-NG2) from parental NG2 negative cells (U251-WT) and implanted both cell types stereotactically into immunodeficient nude rat brains. The tumours were longitudinally monitored in vivo using multispectral MRI employing two differently sized contrast agents (Gd-DTPA-BMA and Gadomer) to assess vascular leakiness, vasogenic oedema, tumour volumes and necrosis. Comparisons of Gd-DTPA-BMA and Gadomer revealed differences in their spatial distribution in the U251-NG2 and U251-WT tumours. The U251-NG2 tumours exhibited a higher leakiness of the larger molecular weight Gadomer and displayed a stronger vasogenic oedema (69.9 +/- 15.2, P = 0.018, compared to the controls (10.7 +/- 7.7). Moreover, immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy revealed that the U251-NG2 tumours had a higher microvascular density (11.81 +/- 0.54; P = 0.0010) compared to controls (5.76 +/- 0.87), with vessels that displayed larger gaps between the endothelial cells. Thus, tumour cells can regulate both the function and structure of the host-derived tumour vasculature through NG2 expression, suggesting a role for NG2 in the cross-talk between tumour-host compartments.