Compelling evidence indicates that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a fundamental regulator of normal and abnormal angiogenesis. The loss of a single VEGF allele results in defective vascularization and early embryonic lethality. VEGF plays also a critical role in kidney development, and its inactivation during early postnatal life results in the suppression of glomerular development and kidney failure. Recent evidence indicates that VEGF is also essential for angiogenesis in the female reproductive tract and for morphogenesis of the epiphyseal growth plate and endochondral bone formation. Substantial experimental evidence also implicates VEGF in pathological angiogenesis. Anti-VEGF monoclonal antibodies or other VEGF inhibitors block the growth of several human tumor cell lines in nude mice. Furthermore, the concentrations of VEGF are elevated in the aqueous and vitreous humors of patients with proliferative retinopathies such as the diabetic retinopathy. In addition, VEGF-induced angiogenesis results in a therapeutic benefit in several animal models of myocardial or limb ischemia. Currently, both therapeutic angiogenesis using recombinant VEGF or VEGF gene transfer and inhibition of VEGF-mediated pathological angiogenesis are being pursued clinically.