Pathological angiogenesis is a hallmark of cancer and various ischaemic and inflammatory diseases. Concentrated efforts in this area of research are leading to the discovery of a growing number of pro- and anti-angiogenic molecules, some of which are already in clinical trials. The complex interactions among these molecules and how they affect vascular structure and function in different environments are now beginning to be elucidated. This integrated understanding is leading to the development of a number of exciting and bold approaches to treat cancer and other diseases. But owing to several unanswered questions, caution is needed.