The growth and metastasis of cancer directly correlates with tumor angiogenesis. A better understanding of the expression of regulatory factors controlling angiogenesis is important in exploiting this process therapeutically. Our present study demonstrates that small tumors (3-4 mm in diameter) express more basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and interleukin 8 (IL-8) than large tumors (> 10 mm in diameter), whereas more vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is expressed in large tumors. Immunostaining showed a heterogeneous distribution of angiogenic factors within the tumor; expression of bFGF and IL-8 was highest on the periphery of a large tumor, where cell division is maximum. VEGF expression was higher in the center of the tumor. In vitro studies demonstrated that sparse cultures of tumor cells expressed higher levels of bFGF and IL-8 than confluent cultures. In contrast, the expression of bFGF and IL-8 was not diminished in tumor cells growing on confluent monolayers of normal cells. VEGF expression was upregulated by cell density irrespective of contact with tumor cells or normal cells. These results demonstrate that the expression of different angiogenic factors in tumor cells can be regulated by their proximity to other tumor cells or host cells.