Angiopoietins are a recently discovered family of angiogenic factors that interact with the endothelial receptor tyrosine kinase Tie2, either as agonists (angiopoietin-1) or as context-dependent agonists/antagonists (angiopoietin-2). Here we show that angiopoietin-1 has a modular structure unlike any previously characterized growth factor. This modular structure consists of a receptor-binding domain, a dimerization motif and a superclustering motif that forms variable-sized multimers. Genetic engineering of precise multimers of the receptor-binding domain of angiopoietin-1, using surrogate multimerization motifs, reveals that tetramers are the minimal size required for activating endothelial Tie2 receptors. In contrast, engineered dimers can antagonize endothelial Tie2 receptors. Surprisingly, angiopoietin-2 has a modular structure and multimerization state similar to that of angiopoietin-1, and its antagonist activity seems to be a subtle property encoded in its receptor-binding domain.