We undertook a prospective study to evaluate the prognostic significance of the serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in predicting the survival of patients with osteosarcoma. The levels were measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 15 patients with osteosarcoma before commencing treatment. The patients were divided into two groups, with a high or a low serum VEGF level, and the incidence of metastases and overall survival rate were compared. No significant relationship was observed between the serum VEGF levels and gender, age, the size of the tumour or the response to pre-operative chemotherapy. Patients with a serum VEGF > 1000 pg/ml had significantly worse survival than those with a level < 1000 pg/ml (p = 0.002). The serum VEGF level may be useful in predicting the prognosis for survival in patients with osteosarcoma.