Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays an essential role in the initiation and regulation of angiogenesis-a crucial component of wound healing and cancer growth. Prostaglandins (PGs) stimulate angiogenesis but the precise mechanisms of their pro-angiogenic actions remain unexplained. We investigated whether prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) can induce VEGF expression in rat gastric microvascular endothelial cells (RGMEC) and the signaling pathway(s) involved. We demonstrated that PGE(2) significantly increased ERK2 and JNK1 activation and VEGF mRNA and protein expression. Incubation of RGMEC with PD 98059 (MEK kinase inhibitor) significantly reduced PGE(2)-induced ERK2 activity, VEGF mRNA and protein expression. Furthermore, PD 98059 treatment almost completely abolished JNK1 activation. Our data suggest that PGE(2)-stimulates VEGF expression in RGMEC via transactivation of JNK1 by ERK2. One potential implication of this finding is that increased PG levels in cancers could facilitate tumor growth by stimulating VEGF synthesis and angiogenesis.