Background VEGF is best known for its angiogenic properties. We have found that VEGF expression is increased in neuroblastoma cells cocultured with hepatocytes. In addition, we have previously shown that neuroblastoma cells cultured with exogenous VEGF have an increase in the expression of VEGF receptors. Therefore, we hypothesized that the expression of VEGF receptors would be up-regulated in neuroblastoma cells grown in the coculture environment. Materials and methods Two neuroblastoma cell lines (IMR-32 or SK-N-DZ) are used. These cells are cultured alone and in a coculture system with hepatocytes. Message for VEGF and the VEGF receptors KDR, flt-1, flt-4, neuropilin 1 (NRP-1), and neuropilin 2 (NRP-2) are measured with RT-PCR. Flt-4, NRP-1, and NRP-2 protein expression is measured with Western blot. Results The receptors KDR and flt-1 are not detected in either cell line in either control or coculture conditions. Message for VEGF and flt-4 is significantly increased in the cocultured IMR-32 cells, while that for NRP-1 and NRP-2 is unchanged in these cells. VEGF and its receptors are unchanged in cocultured SK-N-DZ cells. Conclusions Neuroblastoma cells express specific VEGF receptors that are differentially regulated in the different cell lines. These findings suggest that the heterogeneity of neuroblastomas may limit the utility of targeting VEGF and its receptors as sole treatments for the tumor, and that successful therapies will be dependent upon the specific biology of the tumor. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.