Expression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and c-met, a proto-oncogene that encodes a receptor for HGF, was examined in 45 cases of human primary intracranial tumors by means of RT-PCR. In gliomas, HGF and c-met mRNAs were preferentially expressed in high-grade tumors. Co-expression of both genes was observed in glioblastomas (6/15) and in one anaplastic astrocytoma (1/5) but not in low-grade astrocytomas (0/3). By contrast, the c-met gene was consistently expressed in meningiomas (12/14) and schwannomas (8/8). The presence of c-Met protein was confirmed in the tumor cells of glioblastoma, meningioma and schwannoma by immunohistochemical staining. Moreover, all of the schwannoma cases co-expressed the HGF gene. These observations suggest that HGF/c-met expression is somehow related to the disease progression in gliomas, whereas c-Met protein might have an important fundamental biological role in meningioma and schwannoma. Moreover, since all of the schwannoma cases concomitantly expressed the ligand (HGF) and the receptor (c-met) genes, HGF may act in an autocrine fashion in schwannoma.