The expression of platelet-derived growth factor- beta (PDGF-beta) receptors in the microvasculature of human healing wounds and colorectal adenocarcinoma was investigated. Frozen sections were subjected to double immunofluorescence staining using monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for pericytes (MAb 225.28 recognizing the high-molecular weight-melanoma-associated antigen, expressed by activated pericytes during angiogenesis), endothelial cells (MAb PAL-E), laminin, as well as PDGF-beta receptors (MAb PDGFR-B2) and its ligand PDGF-B chain (MAb PDGF 007). Stained sections were analyzed by computer-aided imaging processing that allowed for a numerical quantification of the degree of colocalization of the investigated antigens. An apparent background colocalization, varying between 23 and 35%, between markers for cells not expected to co-localize was recorded. This background could be due to limitations of camera resolution, to out-of-focus fluorescence, and to interdigitations of the investigated structures. In all six tumor specimens, co-localization of PDGF-beta receptors and PAL-E was not different from the background co-localization, whereas that of PDGF-beta receptors and high-molecular weight-melanoma-associated antigen was significantly higher with mean values between 57 and 71%. Qualitatively, the same pattern was obtained in the two investigated healing wounds. PDGF-B chain did not co-localize with either PAL-E or high-molecular weight-melanoma-associated antigen, but PDGF-B chain-expressing cells were, however, frequently found juxtaposed to the microvasculature. The expression of PDGF-beta receptors on pericytes in activated microvessels and the presence of PDGF-B chain-expressing cells in close proximity to the microvasculature of healing wounds and colorectal adenocarcinoma is compatible with a role for PDGF in the physiology of the microvasculature in these conditions.