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Angiogenesis is a key process in the pathogenesis of inflammatory arthritis. Angiogenin is one of the most potent inducers of neovascularization in experimental models in vivo. To look for evidence that angiogenin is involved in inflammatory joint disease, we examined plasma and synovial fluid (SF) samples from rheumatology patients and synovial fibroblast cell culture supernatants. Angiogenin levels were determined by radioimmunoassay and ELISA. Plasma angiogenin concentrations ranged from 96 to 478 ng/ml, with no significant difference between patients and normal controls. In SF, angiogenin concentrations were significantly higher in patients with acute or chronic synovitis (rheumatoid arthritis (RA): median, 104 ng/ml; range 13–748, n = 14; crystal-induced arthritis (CIA): median, 149 ng/ml; range, 37–616, n = 14, and other chronic inflammatory arthritis: median, 42 ng/ml; range, 15–205; n = 9) than in the 18 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) (median, 20 ng/ml; range 8–116) (P < 0·0001, ANOVA). Angiogenin levels in SF from RA patients in remission with secondary OA were similar to those achieved in primary OA, and decreased in parallel with the resolution of acute gout. Angiogenin protein was released by cultured synovial fibroblasts from OA and RA patients, and reached 1·18 ng/106 cells/day. These data suggest that angiogenin may mediate local inflammation in arthritis via effects on angiogenesis and leucocyte regulation.