Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a key role in formation of pleural effusions and in tumorigenesis and progression of malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelial cells (MC) express the viral receptors Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3), RIG-I and MDA5. Activation of these receptors by viral RNA exemplified by poly(I:C) RNA leads to a time- and dose-dependent increase of mesothelial VEGF synthesis. To show the specific effect of viral receptors knockdown experiments with siRNA for TLR3, RIG-I and MDA5 were performed. This finding of viral induced mesothelial VEGF synthesis may indicate a novel link between viral infections and formation of pleural effusions and progression of malignant mesothelioma.