We have previously reported on the identification of a cDNA (placenta growth factor, PlGF) coding for a novel angiogenic factor expressed in placental tissue that is similar to vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor (VPF/VEGF). Biochemical and functional characterization of PlGF derived from transfected COS-1 cells revealed that it is a glycosylated dimeric secreted protein able to stimulate endothelial cell growth in vitro. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of the PlGF gene located on chromosome 14. At least two different mRNAs are produced from this single-copy gene in different cell lines and tissues. Sequence comparison of the polypeptides encoded by the two different isolated cDNAs indicates that they are identical except for the insertion of a highly basic 21 amino acid stretch at the carboxyl end of the protein. RNA expression analysis of several tissues, tumors and cell lines indicates differential distribution of the two PlGF mRNAs. Finally, preliminary results indicate that the PIGF gene has been conserved in evolution, since the human PlGF cDNA hybridizes to sequences present in the genomic DNA of Drosophila, Xenopus, chicken and mouse.