Cytogenin (8-hydroxy-3-hydroxymethyl-6-methoxyisocoumarin) is a new microbial product with antitumor and antirheumatoid arthritis effects in vivo when administered orally, although its mechanism(s) of action is not known well. Both neoplasia and rheumatoid arthritis are referred to as angiogenesis-dependent diseases. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of cytogenin on both physiological and pathological angiogenesis, using the growing chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane and mouse dorsal air sac assay systems, respectively. The microbial product at doses up to 100 micrograms/egg did not significantly affect embryonic angiogenesis when topically placed on the surface of the chorioallantoic membrane, suggesting that it has no effect on the physiological (or normal) angiogenic response. By contrast, systemic administration of cytogenin (100 mg/kg p.o., for 5 consecutive days) significantly suppressed angiogenesis induced by malignant tumor cells (S-180), one of pathological neovascularization, in a mouse dorsal air sac assay system. Pharmacokinetic studies in mice revealed that the maximal concentration of cytogenin in plasma after a single 100 mg/kg oral dose of the compound was 32 microM. In vitro experiments involving cultured vascular endothelial cells showed that cytogenin at concentrations determined by pharmacokinetic study, had little effect on plasminogen activator secretion, tube formation and the proliferation of endothelial cells. These results suggest that cytogenin is a novel oral antiangiogenic agent, that the mechanism of its antiangiogenic action contributes to its suppressive effects on both tumor growth and rheumatoid arthritis that we previously found, and that it could be developed as a potential therapeutic agent for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other angiogenesis-dependent disorders such as diabetic retinopathy.