Purpose: Vein graft stenosis caused by intimal hyperplasia (IH) accounts for 30% to 50% of late bypass graft failures; however, the biochemical mediators of vein graft IH have been poorly defined. We attempted to evaluate the spatial and temporal distribution of five principal cytokines (interleukin-1 beta [IL-1β], platelet-derived growth factor-AA [PDGF-AA], basic fibroblast growth factor [bFGF], interferon gamma [INFγ], and tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-α]) during the development of IH in a rat vein graft model. Methods: Rat epigastric vein interposition grafts in the femoral artery were harvested at 6 hours, 2 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, and 4 weeks after the grafting procedure and studied with immunohistochemical and standard histologic techniques. The cytokine expression in the endothelium and media/neointima was quantified as the percentage of immunopositive cells per high-power field. Results: Maximal hyperplasia occurred 2 weeks after the grafting procedure. Peak expression of IL-1β and bFGF occurred by 2 days. PDGF-AA expression paralleled the development of IH, peaking at 2 weeks and then declining. TNF-α expression increased at 1 week and remained elevated, INFγ was seen only in control grafts. Conclusions: The coordinated early release of IL-1β and bFGF and the down-regulation of INFγ seem to trigger an inflammatory response, thereby initiating IH. The process then is propagated by the release of PDGF-AA and TNF-α, with concomitant smooth muscle cell proliferation and production of extracellular matrix. It is likely that this complex milieu of local paracrine signaling is required to generate the hyperplastic response seen in failing vein grafts.