We examined gene expression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and HGF receptor (HGFR), or product of proto-oncogene c-met (c-met), in smokers and nonsmokers with adenocarcinoma (ADC) by suppression subtractive hybridization and microarray techniques. Expression of HGF and c-met was confirmed by RT-PCR. HGF content in the respective tumor mass and nontumor lung tissue was measured by ELISA. HGF in pathologic samples was localized by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Our results indicate that overexpression of HGFR was frequently detected in ADC cells, whereas overexpression of HGF was detected in alveolar type II (ATII) cells. Overexpression of HGF was correlated with cigarette smoking and tumor stages. In vitro, HGF expression was evaluated in isolated murine ATII cells and in 12 ADC cell lines, and we found that nicotine activated HGF expression in ATII cells and lung cancer cells.