Although vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a vital role in lung vascular growth in the embryo, its role in maintaining endothelial function and modulating vascular structure during late fetal life has not been studied. We hypothesized that impaired lung VEGF signaling causes pulmonary hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, and structural remodeling before birth. To determine whether lung VEGF expression is decreased in an experimental model of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), we measured lung VEGF and VEGF receptor protein content from fetal lambs 7-10 days after ductus arteriosus ligation (132-140 days gestation; term = 147 days). In contrast with the surge in lung VEGF expression during late gestation in controls, chronic intrauterine pulmonary hypertension reduced lung VEGF expression by 78%. To determine whether VEGF inhibition during late gestation causes pulmonary hypertension, we treated fetal lambs with EYE001, an aptamer that specifically inhibits VEGF(165). Compared with vehicle controls, EYE001 treatment elevated pulmonary artery pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance by 22 and 50%, respectively, caused right ventricular hypertrophy, and increased wall thickness of small pulmonary arteries. EYE001 treatment reduced lung endothelial nitric oxide synthase protein content by 50% and preferentially impaired the pulmonary vasodilator response to ACh, an endothelium-dependent agent. We conclude that chronic intrauterine pulmonary hypertension markedly decreases lung VEGF expression and that selective inhibition of VEGF(165) mimics the structural and physiological changes of experimental PPHN. We speculate that hypertension downregulates VEGF expression in the developing lung and that impaired VEGF signaling may contribute to the pathogenesis of PPHN.