FGF-2 has been implicated in the cardiac response to hypertrophic stimuli. Angiotensin II (Ang II) contributes to maintain elevated blood pressure in hypertensive individuals and exerts direct trophic effects on cardiac cells. However, the role of FGF-2 in Ang II-induced cardiac hypertrophy has not been established. Therefore, mice deficient in FGF-2 expression were studied using a model of Ang II-dependent hypertension and cardiac hypertrophy. Echocardiographic measurements show the presence of dilated cardiomyopathy in normotensive mice lacking FGF-2. Moreover, hypertensive mice without FGF-2 developed no compensatory cardiac hypertrophy. In wild-type mice, hypertrophy was associated with a stimulation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase, the extracellular signal regulated kinase, and the p38 kinase pathways. In contrast, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation was markedly attenuated in FGF-2-deficient mice. In vitro, FGF-2 of fibroblast origin was demonstrated to be essential in the paracrine stimulation of MAPK activation in cardiomyocytes. Indeed, fibroblasts lacking FGF-2 expression have a defective capacity for releasing growth factors to induce hypertrophic responses in cardiomyocytes. Therefore, these results identify the cardiac fibroblast population as a primary integrator of hypertrophic stimuli in the heart, and suggest that FGF-2 is a crucial mediator of cardiac hypertrophy via autocrine/paracrine actions on cardiac cells.