Angiogenesis is an independent prognostic indicator in breast cancer. In this report, the relationship between expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF; a selective mitogen for endothelial cells) and the microvessel density was examined in 103 primary breast cancers. The expression of VEGF was evaluated by immunocytochemical staining using anti-VEGF antibody. The microvessel density, which was determined by immunostaining for factor VIII antigen, in VEGF-rich tumors was clearly higher than that in VEGF-poor tumors (P < 0.01). There was a good correlation between VEGF expression and the increment of microvessel density. Furthermore, postoperative survey demonstrated that the relapse-free survival rate of VEGF-rich tumors was significantly worse than that of VEGF-poor tumors. It was suggested that the expression of VEGF is closely associated with the promotion of angiogenesis and with early relapse in primary breast cancer.