Immunohistochemical staining was used to demonstrate basement membrane (BM) laminin and type IV collagen in eight cases of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). These KS were not associated with AIDS and represented different histological stages of the disease: patch (three cases), plaque (one case), and nodule (four cases). Nine cases of benign angiogenic lesions, five of blood vessel origin, and four of lymphatic vessel origin were also studied. An early event in vascular proliferation at the patch stage of KS was an intersection of dermal collagen bundles and the appearance of granular BM material around this space. With the increase of amount and linear arrangement of BM material, well-defined capillaries were formed. Two types of capillary were found in KS lesions. One showed morphological features of blood capillaries, with a round lumen; thick, continuous BM, and occasional pericytes in the wall. The other included irregularly shaped vessels with thin, often disrupted BMs; thus these capillaries morphologically resembled lymphatic capillaries. BM staining also clearly revealed the vascular nature of the nodular lesions of KS, which were composed of a network of slit-like spaces surrounded by BMs. The solid tumor cell areas were sparse; they were composed of spindle-shaped cells surrounded by thin, interrupted basal laminae. By using antibodies against human laminin and human type IV collagen, it was also possible to demonstrate thin, widely disrupted BMs subendothelially in normal dermal lymphatic capillaries. Typically, the BMs in lymphangiomas and lymphangiectasias were continuous and more clearly defined.