Epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulates the migration and proliferation of, and tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) synthesis in, human omental microvascular endothelial (HOME) cells in culture, as well as inducing the formation by these cells. In the present study, we examined the effects of various growth factors, i.e., transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) on HOME cells, and compared their effects with that of EGF. IGF-1 stimulated the proliferation and migration of these cells at a level comparable to EGF. EGF and TGF-alpha induced expression of tPA in HOME cells, while IGF-1 and HGF did not. EGF and TGF-alpha induced tube formation by HOME cells in type I collagen gel, while IGF-1 and HGF did not. The stimulatory effect of EGF on tube formation in the gel was blocked by anti-tPA antibody and by a serine protease inhibitor, aprotinin. When exogenous tPA and IGF-1 or HGF were added simultaneously to the culture, a marked induction of tube formation in the gel was observed. Exogenously added tPA alone, however, had no such inducible effect on tube formation. These results indicated an indispensable role of tPA in growth factor-dependent tube formation by HOME cells. Two subsets of growth factors appeared to modulate angiogenesis: One with fully active angiogenic activity which could induce PA (this included EGF and TGF-alpha), and the other, which could not induce PA and was not angiogenic, but could promote angiogenesis in the presence of PA. This subset included IGF-1 and HGF.