Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) synthesized in the pituitary is involved in the formation and progression of pituitary tumors. The aim of this study was to analyze the pattern expression of two FGF-2 isoforms at different subcellular levels and to determine its correlation with prolactinoma development. Estrogen administration to male rats for 7, 20, and 60 days generated pituitary tumors, with lactotrophs being the prevalent cell type. Ultrastructural immunolabeling showed FGF-2 in the cytosolic and nuclear compartments of somatotrophs, lactotrophs and gonadotrophs, as well as in folliculo-stellate cells of normal rats. Estrogen stimulation increased FGF-2 immunoreactivity in various tumors and enhanced the expression of two FGF-2 isoforms, 18 and 22 kDa, as quantified by western blot. The 18 kDa isoform observed in cytosol extracts reached the highest levels after 60 days of hormonal stimulation and this was related to lactotroph proliferation. However, the 22 kDa FGF-2 isoform was only detected in the nuclear compartment and achieved the maximum expression at 7 days of estrogen treatment, without any correlation with lactotroph proliferation. These results suggest that the 18 kDa FGF-2 may play a role in the modulation of lactotroph proliferation in prolactinomas induced by estrogen. The overproduction of both FGF-2 isoforms appears to be implicated in autocrine-paracrine-intracrine mitogenic loops; this FGF-2 activity could lead to uncontrolled cell growth, angiogenesis, and tumor formation.