Placenta accreta is a pregnancy complication characterized by the presence of life-threatening uteroplacental neovascularization. The factors involving its development are unknown. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), placenta growth factor (PlGF) and their receptors (VEGFR) have important roles in vascular remodeling. We have investigated the differential expression of these proteins in placentae from placenta accreta (cases) and normal placentation (controls). Immunohistochemically, the expression of VEGFR-2 in the syncytiotrophoblast was significantly lower in cases than in controls during both the second and third trimesters (P = 0.005 and 0.002, respectively). However, VEGFR-2 expression in the cytotrophoblastic and extravillous trophoblastic cells and VEGFR-1, -3 and Ki-67 in the trophoblast populations were not significantly different between controls and cases (P > 0.05). Ki-67 immunostaining also showed that endothelial cells of the larger vessels were stained weaker in normal placenta than in placenta accreta. The majority of VEGFR-2 expression, as demonstrated by Western blot or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, was consistent with the immunohistochemical findings in the syncytiotrophoblast. Furthermore, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in the placental lysates showed that the women with placenta accreta demonstrated significantly higher VEGF (P = 0.001) and lower soluble VEGFR-2 (P = 0.015) concentrations than did women with normal pregnancy. PlGF and soluble VEGFR-1 levels did not show any significance in study groups (P > 0.05). These observations suggest that the participation of up-regulated VEGF and down-regulated VEGFR-2 (both membrane-bound and soluble forms) may be associated with the development of placenta accreta.