The growth of endothelial cells is necessary for angiogenesis, which in turn is required for later steps of tumor progression. In an attempt to purify new modulators of endothelial cell growth from the conditioned medium of human urinary bladder carcinoma cells, we isolated a small and stable oligonucleotide containing 10 to 16 bases. This oligonucleotide inhibited the growth of endothelial cells in vitro and was identified as a fragment of transfer RNA (tRNA). When unfractionated bovine tRNA was added to the cell culture, it specifically inhibited growth of endothelial cells, but not smooth muscle cells, bovine kidney cells, 3T3 fibroblasts, and several cancer cell lines. In contrast, ribosomal RNA, total yeast RNA, and single nucleosides from tRNA hydrolysate had no effect. These results demonstrate a new role for tRNA and its fragment as a selective endothelial cell inhibitor in vitro.