The aim of the present study was to investigate in vivo in a mouse model the stimulation of neoangiogenesis by synovial fluids of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to determine the role of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and platelet-activating factor (PAF) in the formation of new vessels. Angiogenesis was studied in a mouse model in which Matrigel, injected subcutaneously, was used as a vehicle for the delivery of potential angiogenic stimuli. Synovial fluids of patients with RA but not with osteoarthritis (OA) were shown to induce neoangiogenesis. Since synovial fluid of patients with RA contained significantly higher levels of TNF-alpha-like bioactivity and of PAF than that of patients with OA, the role of these mediators was evaluated by using an anti-TNF-alpha neutralizing monoclonal antibody (mAb) and a PAF receptor antagonist, WEB 2170. When added to Matrigel, anti-TNF-alpha mAb and particularly WEB 2170 significantly reduced neoangiogenesis induced by synovial fluids of RA patients. Moreover, PAF extracted and purified from synovial fluid induced angiogenesis. These results suggest that the neoangiogenesis observed in rheumatoid synovitis may be due, at least in part, to the angiogenic effect of locally produced TNF-alpha and PAF.