Prostate cancer research has been limited by the slow growth of human prostate tumors In athymic rodent models. This study sought to determine if low-dose radiation and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) could enhance the development of PC-3 human prostate adenocarcinoma xenotransplanted into nude mice. Whole body radiation (2 Gy) was delivered only once, whereas VEGF (39 ng total/mouse) was injected subcutaneously over a 17-day period. The combination of the two agents, compared to nontreated controls, resulted in significantly higher tumor incidence (100% versus 50%) and more-rapid tumor progression (1288 mm3 versus 190 mm3 by day 60). Treatment-associated changes were observed in body weights and assays of blood and spleen cells. In addition, 3H-thymidine uptake by PC-3 cells cultured in the presence of VEGF and transforming growth factor-beta 1 was compared. These results show that low-dose, whole-body radiation and VEGF can be used in concert safely and effectively to facilitate growth of PC-3 prostate tumor and that the mechanisms of interaction may involve leukocyte modulation.