Mast cells are likely to play a role in angiogenesis under pathological conditions. Solid tumor growth is dependent on angiogenesis, but the influence of mast cells on angiogenesis in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, (NHL) is not clear. We investigated mast cell number and vessel count in 61 cases of NHL. We also evaluated expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), both important cytokines for angiogenesis. The number of mast cells was greater in T-cell lymphomas than in B-cell lymphomas. Of the T-cell lymphomas, the greatest number of mast cells was observed in the angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AIL). In all NHLs, significant correlation was found between vessel count and the number of mast cells (p < 0.0001) and between vessel count and the number of VEGF-expressing cells (p < 0.05) but not between vessel count and bFGF-expressing cells. Strong correlation was detected between the number of mast cells and the number of VEGF-expressing cells (p < 0.0001) in all NHLs. Double fluorescence staining of VEGF mRNA and mast cell tryptase revealed that mast cells expressed VEGF mRNA. Our data suggest that mast cells play a very important role in angiogenesis by expressing VEGF in NHL, especially in AIL.