Progressive systemic sclerosis (PSS), a disease still of unknown origin, is a generalized autoimmune disorder characterized by immunological abnormalities, microvascular dysfunction, and tissue fibrosis. The mechanism leading to selective microvascular injury in PSS is not completely known, however it is now clear that neuropeptides, vascular endothelium, and disturbances in the regulation of fibroblast function are the three major contributors to the increased fibrosis of skin and internal organs. Thus, endothelial cell and fibroblast dysfunction may be linked through the paracrine activity of soluble endothelial cell products: the cytokine cascade (IL-1, TGF-beta-1, PDGF, TNF, etc.). In systemic sclerosis, the exaggerated generalized vasospastic tendency is clinically represented by Raynaud's phenomenon as shown by an early digital arterial closure after cold stimulation, and by an inadequate vasodilatory response to heat. In this review we summarize recently established data that center around the role of adhesion molecules, immune reactions, and aberrant fibroblast biology and metabolism in effecting vascular and connective tissue alterations in this disease. Only a better knowledge of the pathophysiological process involved in scleroderma might lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches.