Placenta growth factor type 1 (PIGF-1) can be synthesized by neoplastic cells in an alternative form (PIGF-2) by the addition of basic amino acids to its classic sequence. Here we show that the basic residues of PIGF-2 compete for the binding of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) to heparan sulfate proteoglycans of the cell surface and extracellular matrix. In doing so, PIGF-2 basic sequences inhibit the sequestering of VEGF and bFGF and maintain them in a highly diffusible form, thus enhancing their angiogenic effect. In agreement with these in vitro data, the presence of PIGF-2 transcripts in tumors correlates with their blood vessel number. These results suggest a mechanism by which growth factor isoforms produced by neoplastic cells enhance the formation of new blood vessels supporting tumor growth and progression.