Thymidine phosphorylase (TP) is a key enzyme in the pyrimidine nucleoside salvage pathway, but it also recognizes and inactivates various anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agents. Moreover, TP is identical to platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor (PD-ECGF), an angiogenic factor with anti-apoptotic properties. Increased expression of PD-ECGF/TP is found in many tumor and stromal cells, and elevated TP levels are associated with aggressive disease and/or poor prognosis. Thus, progression and metastasis of TP-expressing tumors might be abrogated by TP inhibitors that are used as single agents or in combination with (TP-sensitive) nucleoside analogues. On the other hand, increased TP activity in tumors may be exploited for the tumor-specific activation of fluoropyrimidine prodrugs, such as capecitabine. This review will focus on the different biological activities of PD-ECGF/TP and their implications for cancer progression and treatment.