Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), secreted by mesenchymal cells, has pleiotropic biological activities on several cell types. HGF and its receptor, the c-met proto-oncogene product (c-MET) have been implicated in the genesis and progression of several carcinomas and sarcomas. It has been suggested that MET/HGF autocrine signaling may contribute to tumorigenesis in sarcomas. HGF has been recently found to be a mitogen for rat Schwann cells and to be present in neurofibromas in NF1 patients. In this investigation, we assessed the immunoreactive patterns of HGF and MET in benign and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (PNST) using archival formalin-fixed tissue. The standard avidin-biotin-peroxidase method was used. All benign tumors were negative with HGF. Eight cases of MPNST were positive with both HGF and MET. In some malignant PNST, positivity with both ligand and the receptor may be indicative of an autocrine mediated signal transduction and may implicate HGF/MET in tumor progression. Immunoreactivity with MET was strikingly greater in MPNST in contrast to benign PNST; this finding may prove to be helpful in distinguishing some histologically low-grade MPNST from cellular and atypical benign PNST.