Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have been isolated from circulating mononuclear cells in human peripheral blood and shown to be incorporated into foci of neovascularization, consistent with postnatal vasculogenesis. We determined whether endogenous stimuli (tissue ischemia) and exogenous cytokine therapy (granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor, GM-CSF) mobilize EPCs and thereby contribute to neovascularization of ischemic tissues. The development of regional ischemia in both mice and rabbits increased the frequency of circulating EPCs. In mice, the effect of ischemia-induced EPC mobilization was demonstrated by enhanced ocular neovascularization after cornea micropocket surgery in mice with hindlimb ischemia compared with that in non-ischemic control mice. In rabbits with hindlimb ischemia, circulating EPCs were further augmented after pretreatment with GM-CSF, with a corresponding improvement in hindlimb neovascularization. There was direct evidence that EPCs that contributed to enhanced corneal neovascularization were specifically mobilized from the bone marrow in response to ischemia and GM-CSF in mice transplanted with bone marrow from transgenic donors expressing beta-galactosidase transcriptionally regulated by the endothelial cell-specific Tie-2 promoter. These findings indicate that circulating EPCs are mobilized endogenously in response to tissue ischemia or exogenously by cytokine therapy and thereby augment neovascularization of ischemic tissues.