Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent angiogenic factor that may also function as an autocrine growth regulator. Thirty-one ovarian carcinomas were investigated for mRNA expression of VEGF and of a proliferation-dependent gene (histone H3) using slot-blot analysis. Tumor vascularity was assessed by immunohistochemistry and factor VIII. All tumors were demonstrated to express VEGF and histone H3, though to various degrees. There was a good correlation between VEGF mRNA values and histone H3 mRNA values (r = 0.71, p < 0.05). No correlation was found between tumor cell proliferation and tumor vascularity. There was no significant difference in relapse-free interval or overall survival between tumors with low and high VEGF expression. The close correlation of VEGF expression with tumor cell proliferation in this study raises the possibility of autocrine stimulation of ovarian carcinoma.