Angiogenesis plays an important role in the growth, progression, and metastasis of solid tumours. Malignant mesothelioma (MM) of the pleura is a highly invasive tumour with a poor prognosis. In the present study, microvascular quantification was undertaken on 25 specimens of mesothelioma and 15 specimens of non-neoplastic mesothelium (NNM), by staining for the antigens CD34 and CD31. Areas of highest intratumoural microvascular density (IMD) were identified and counted either manually (mIMD) or on a computerized image analysis system (CIAS; iIMD). The two IMDs were significantly correlated with each other (r = 0.736; P < 0.001). The average IMD for MM was significantly (P < 0.001) higher than in NNM. Moreover, each unit increment in iIMD for MM, when regarded as a continuous variable, was significantly (P = 0.001) associated with an increased hazard of about 4 per cent. When regarded as a categorical variable, the patients in the highest tertile (> 58 vessels/field) had a significantly (P < 0.01; log-rank test) shorter survival than patients in the lowest tertile (< 45 vessels/field). This association was independent of the age of the patient and of the histological type or grade of the MM. No association was noted with p53 immunoexpression. Although the mean vascular area of blood vessels measured on the CIAS did not correlate with survival, assessment of IMDs can be an important independent prognostic indicator in malignant mesothelioma.