Cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 plays an important role in intestinal tumorigenesis and angiogenesis in animal models. In superficial areas of human sporadic colorectal adenomas, COX-2 is expressed predominantly by interstitial macrophages, in close proximity to microvessels. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between microvessel density (MVD) and COX-2 expression in human sporadic colorectal adenomas. Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence for CD31 and COX-2 were performed on a well-characterized series of human sporadic colorectal adenomas (n = 37). The mean MVD and COX-2 expression level (scored 0–3) in superficial and deep interstitial cells of adenomas were assessed by two independent observers. Superficial MVD was increased in COX-2-positive adenomas, compared with COX-2-negative adenomas (p = 0.037). There was a significant correlation between superficial MVD and increasing superficial interstitial cell COX-2 expression score (p = 0.048). COX-2-expressing interstitial cells aggregated in areas of high MVD. No relationship was evident between MVD and COX-2 expression in either deep interstitial cells or epithelial cells. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that only adenoma size (p = 0.005) was a significant independent predictor of MVD. COX-2 protein expression by superficial interstitial cells in human sporadic colorectal adenomas is associated with increased angiogenesis. Promotion of angiogenesis may play a role in the pro-tumourigenic activity of COX-2 during growth of human colorectal adenomas. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.