Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an angiogenic factor in human cancer tissue. To clarify the clinical significance of this factor, we investigated the VEGF expression in early and advanced gastric cancer. This study included analysis of data on 243 patients with gastric cancer, including 118 in the early stage and 125 in the advanced stage. VEGF was immunohistochemically stained. Of 243 tumors, 102 (42%) were VEGF-positive. The VEGF-positive gastric cancers were larger, more invasive, and classified in the more advanced stage than VEGF negative ones. Patients with VEGF-positive cancers had significantly lower survival rates than did those with negative ones, both in early and advanced stages (P < 0.05, P < 0.01, respectively). The VEGF-positive isolates had more hematogenous metastases than VEGF-negative ones. Multivariate analysis revealed VEGF to be an independent prognostic factor and independent risk factor for liver metastasis. The VEGF expression in cancer cells can serve as a pertinent prognostic indicator both in early and advanced gastric cancer.