Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an angiogenic factor which is known to be expressed in several malignancies including glioma. The effect of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) isoforms as well as gangliosides on VEGF production was investigated in human glioma cell lines. TGF-beta isoforms and gangliosides were found to differentially stimulate VEGF production by these cells. The ganglioside GD3 enhanced this release to the greatest extent and the stimulation was more marked in a glioblastoma cell line than in the two other anaplastic astrocytoma cell lines. These results suggest that both TGF-betas and gangliosides may act as indirect angiogenic factors by stimulating VEGF secretion.