Angiogenesis is essential for tumour growth and important in tumour metastasis and prognosis. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) stimulates endothelial proliferation in vitro and angiogenesis in vivo. VEGF expression has been correlated with high vascularity in tumours, including carcinoma of the breast. This study investigated VEGF expression and vascularity of invasive lobular (n = 10) and invasive ductal carcinoma (n = 28), and pure ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast (n = 33). VEGF protein expression was studied with immunohistochemistry and VEGF mRNA with in situ hybridization. Vascular density was assessed on sections stained for von Willebrand factor. There was more expression of both VEGF protein (P = 0.006) and mRNA (P = 0.002) in invasive ductal than in invasive lobular carcinoma. VEGF protein (rs = 0.32, P = 0.047) and mRNA (rs = 0.56, P = 0.04) correlated with vascular density in invasive ductal carcinoma. In invasive lobular carcinoma, vascular density did not correlate with VEGF mRNA (rs = 0.15, P = 0.35) and was inversely related to VEGF protein (rs = -0.57, P = 0.04). There were no significant differences in vascular density between the two types of invasive carcinoma, suggesting that VEGF is important in angiogenesis in invasive ductal carcinoma, but that other angiogenic factors are important in invasive lobular carcinoma. Although VEGF protein was frequently expressed in ductal carcinoma in situ, no relationship was found between VEGF and the two patterns of angiogenesis previously described.