We previously reported that follistatin, an activin-binding protein, is produced in arteriosclerotic lesions. Here, the expression of activin-A which promotes the growth of vascular smooth muscle cells was examined in arteriosclerotic lesions of WHHL (Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic) rabbits. Activin-A mRNA was detected in normal aorta by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction using specific primers for activin-A cDNA and was increased remarkably in arteriosclerotic lesions. In addition, using the cloned rabbit activin-A cDNA, RNA probe was prepared and in situ hybridization histochemistry was performed. Activin-A transcripts were detected abundantly in neointima of the diseased artery. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry also detected activin-A at the protein level. These observations suggest that activin-A is a cytokine expressed in arteriosclerotic lesions and might be involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.