PHP (protein histidine phosphatase) is expressed by mammalian tissues, particularly in blood vessel walls. We investigated whether PHP plays a significant role in endothelial cells. By Western blot and immunofluorescence analysis PHP was found in HUVEC (human umbilical-vein endothelial cells). Overexpression of PHP by the use of a plasmid vector, pIRES2-AcGFP1-PHP, induced apoptosis in HUVEC. To exclude the possibility that increased cellular protein alone unspecifically caused cell damage, the inactive H53A mutant of PHP was also overexpressed as a control; it did not lead to apoptosis. Down-regulation of PHP by the RNAi (RNA interference) technique did not affect cell viability. In conclusion, HUVEC are damaged by overexpression, but not down-regulation, of PHP, suggesting a pronounced impact of the enzyme on the cells when its activity is increased.