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Glioma stem cells (GSCs), or stem cell-like glioma cells, isolated from malignant glioma cell lines, were capable of producing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). However, the exact role of such tumour cells in angiogenesis remains unknown. In this study, we isolated a small proportion of CD133+ GSCs from the human glioblastoma cell line U87 and found that these GSCs possessed multipotent differentiation potential and released high levels of VEGF as compared with CD133− tumour cells. The CD133+ GSCs also formed larger xenograft tumours that contained higher VEGF immunoreactivity and denser microvessels. Moreover, GSCs expressed a functional G protein-coupled formylpeptide receptor FPR, which was activated by a chemotactic peptide ligand, N-formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLF), to mediate calcium flux and the production of VEGF by GSCs. Our results indicate that FPR expressed by human GSCs may play an important role in glioma angiogenesis. Copyright © 2008 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.