Current data suggest that angiogenesis plays a significant role in the pathogenesis and progression of chronic myeloproliferative diseases (cMPDs). In the present study, we evaluated serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in 83 patients with cMPDs [myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia (MMM, n = 25), essential thrombocythaemia (ET, n = 40), polycythaemia vera (PV, n = 8) and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML, n = 10)] and in 27 healthy individuals. Serum VEGF levels were significantly increased in patients with cMPDs compared to healthy individuals (all p values were < or = 0.05) and were significantly correlated with bone marrow microvessel density (MVD) (p = 0.0013). In addition, the immunohistochemical expression of VEGF protein in bone marrow biopsy specimens were analyzed in 61 patients with cMPDs, (ET, n = 36 and MMM, n = 25) and in 27 healthy individuals. The cellular distribution of VEGF expression was similar in bone marrow specimens of patients and healthy individuals. VEGF protein was detected mainly in erythroid cells, whereas myeloid cells and megakaryocytes exhibited a variable expression of the protein. The percentage of bone marrow VEGF positive cells was positively correlated with serum levels of VEGF (p = 0.001). The results of the present study suggest that, VEGF is a major angiogenetic factor in patients with cMPDs and contributes to the pathogenesis of these diseases.