Vascularization of the growth plate region represents a key mechanism for the coupling of two fundamental processes determining the rate of bone growth, chondrogenesis (cartilage production) and osteogenesis (bone formation). Precise coupling is crucial during periods of rapid bone growth or fracture repair in adults, and changes in the balance might induce pathologic conditions such as osteoarthritis and ectopic bone formation. During the formation of the growth plates of long bones, there is a close and dynamic interaction between developing vascular structures and the cartilage, which is one of the least vascular tissues in the body. Recent experimental findings provide an explanation why the close proximity of cartilage and vasculature is mutually exclusive: vascular invasion of cartilage is associated with chondrocyte apoptosis and consequently, inhibition of angiogenesis in the growth plate delays chondrocyte cell death, resulting in a massive expansion in the number of hypertrophic cartilage cells in the growth plate. The fundamental importance of chondrocytes in the growth, development and repair of the skeleton has led to intense investigation of the mechanisms that regulate chondrocyte maturation and apoptosis.