Stimulation of NIH3T3 cells with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB enhances expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), an endothelial cell-specific mitogen and a key mediator of tumor angiogenesis. Here, we identified cis-acting VEGF promoter elements and trans-acting factors which are involved in PDGF-stimulated VEGF expression. By 5'-deletion and transient transfection analysis, a G + C-rich region at -85 to -50 of the human VEGF promoter was shown to be necessary and sufficient for both PDGF inducible and basal expression. The region contains three potential recognition sites for Sp1 transcription factors, which overlap with two Egr-1 sites. Mutations that abolish the ability of Sp1 to interact with the VEGF promoter element also abrogate expression induced by PDGF. Mutations of the potential Egr-1 binding sites did not affect PDGF responsiveness. Gel shift and antibody supershift analyses showed that Sp1 and Sp3 interact constitutively with the VEGF promoter element. Our data strongly suggest that enhanced VEGF gene expression in PDGF-induced NIH3T3 cells is mediated by Sp1 and/or Sp3 transcription factors bound to the -85 to -50 promoter region of the VEGF gene.