Ovarian cancer is characterized by the rapid growth of solid intraperitoneal tumors and large volumes of ascitic fluid. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) augments tumor growth by inducing neovascularization and may stimulate ascites formation by increasing vascular permeability. We examined the role of VEGF in ovarian carcinoma using in vivo models in which intraperitoneal or subcutaneous tumors were induced in immunodeficient mice using the human ovarian carcinoma cell line SKOV-3. After tumor engraftment (7 to 10 days), some mice were treated with a function-blocking VEGF antibody (A4.6.1) specific for human VEGF. A4.6.1 significantly (P < 0.05) inhibited subcutaneous SKOV-3 tumor growth compared with controls. However, tumor growth resumed when A4.6.1 treatment was discontinued. In mice bearing intraperitoneal tumors (IP mice), ascites production and intraperitoneal carcinomatosis were detected 3 to 7 weeks after SKOV-3 inoculation. Importantly, A4.6.1 completely inhibited ascites production in IP mice, although it only partially inhibited intraperitoneal tumor growth. Tumor burden was variable in A4.6.1-treated IP mice; some had minimal tumor, whereas in others tumor burden was similar to that of controls. When A4.6.1 treatment was stopped, IP mice rapidly (within 2 weeks) developed ascites and became cachectic. These data suggest that in ovarian cancer, tumor-derived VEGF is obligatory for ascites formation but not for intraperitoneal tumor growth. Neutralization of VEGF activity may have clinical application in inhibiting malignant ascites formation in ovarian cancer.