Kinins, the biological end-products of the kallikrein-kininogen system, influence many aspects of the cellular function. Interest in this peptidergic system has been renewed recently by the discovery that kinins exert cardiovascular protective effects and promote post-ischaemic recovery by stimulating vascular growth. Pharmacological and genetic studies indicate that induction of kallikrein and kinin receptors by ischaemia is functionally relevant in the natural host response that permits perfusion recovery and tissue healing. Furthermore, potentiation of the generation of kinins by continuous supply of tissue kallikrein promotes reparative angiogenesis through stimulation of the release of nitric oxide and prostaglandins. Strategies that activate kinin receptors might be applicable to the treatment of occlusive vascular disease, whereas kinin receptor antagonists could represent therapeutic reagents against pathological angiogenesis in cancer and chronic inflammatory conditions.