Children and adults may differ with respect to their cerebral vasculature in both normal and pathological states. The authors have identified four pediatric patients in whom a cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) recurred after surgery for removal of the AVM and in whom a normal postoperative angiogram had been obtained. This phenomenon has not been observed in adults. The propensity to regrow a cerebral AVM may reflect a less mature cerebral vasculature and a disregulated angiogenic process. Recently, attention has focused on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as a possible general mediator of angiogenesis in development and neoplasia. A retrospective immunocytochemical analysis of VEGF expression in AVM tissue was conducted to test the hypothesis that VEGF expression may be found in association with the regrowth of AVMs. The results demonstrate a high degree of astrocytic VEGF expression in four (100%) of four specimens from the initial operation in the children with recurrent AVMs as compared to one (14%) of seven nonrecurrent AVMs in the pediatric and two (25%) of eight adult specimens. All of the specimens from the first operation of the recurrent group demonstrate a clear association of cellular immunoreactivity to the abnormal blood vessels, a relationship that was not observed in the specimens from the nonrecurrent groups. These observations indicate that a humoral mechanism mediated by VEGF may play a role in AVM recurrence.