The hypoxia-inducible endothelial cell-specific mitogen vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular permeability factor (VEGF/VPF) is expressed in low amounts in adult human brain, but is highly upregulated in the perinecrotic palisading cells of glioblastomas. We observed high VEGF expression in cerebellar hemangioblastomas, which are highly vascular, nonnecrotic and presumably nonhypoxic tumors, and hypothesized that a mechanism other than hypoxia leads to VEGF upregulation. Because hemangioblastomas develop in patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease, and mutations of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor (VHL) gene have also been reported in sporadic hemangioblastomas, we investigated VHL expression in normal cerebellum and in hemangioblastomas and tested the hypothesis that mutations in the VHL gene lead to upregulation of VEGE We observed constitutive expression of VHL mRNA, but downregulation of VEGF mRNA in the postnatal cerebellum. In the adult cerebellum, VHL is predominantly expressed in neuronal cells. In hemangioblastomas, VHL expression appears to be restricted to stromal cells, suggesting that the neoplastic component is the stromal cell. VHL-deficient renal cell carcinoma cells (786-0) produced significantly higher levels of VEGF mRNA and protein compared with 786-0/ wt10 cells, which were stably transfected with the wild-type VHL gene. Our observations suggest that VHL mutations affect stromal cells in hemangioblastomas and that VEGF is upregulated in stromal cells as a consequence of mutations in the VHL gene.