Accumulating experimental evidence indicates that endothelial cell growth and blood vessel morphogenesis are processes that are governed by the activity of specifically expressed receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). We have used two new rat monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to study the expression and phosphorylation of one such receptor, mouse Tie2 (tyrosine kinase that contains immunoglobulin-like loops and epidermal-growth-factor-similar domains 2]), in transfected cells, endothelioma cell lines and mouse tissues. The Tie2 receptor was found to be constitutively autophosphorylated when over-expressed in COS7 cells. In contrast, the endogenous Tie2 protein was not phosphorylated in endothelioma cell lines. However, in these cell lines, Tie2 could be induced to become tyrosine phosphorylated, and this activation was found to be independent of Tie1. Studying Tie2 receptor activity during angiogenesis in mouse development, the receptor was only weakly phosphorylated in the early postnatal mouse brain whereas a stronger activation could be detected in mouse embryos at day 10.5 post coitum.