The endothelium plays a critical role in the inflammatory process. The complement activation product, C5a, is known to have proinflammatory effects on the endothelium, but the molecular mechanisms remain unclear. We have used cDNA microarray analysis to assess gene expression in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) that were stimulated with human C5a in vitro. Chip analyses were confirmed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and by Western blot analysis. Gene activation responses were remarkably similar to gene expression patterns of HUVECs stimulated with human tumor necrosis factor-alpha or bacterial lipopolysaccharide. HUVECs stimulated with C5a showed progressive increases in gene expression for cell adhesion molecules (eg, E-selectin, ICAM-1, VCAM-1), cytokines/chemokines, and related receptors (eg, VEGFC, IL-6, IL-18R). Surprisingly, HUVECs showed little evidence for up-regulation of complement-related genes. There were transient increases in gene expression associated with broad functional activities. The three agonists used also caused down-regulation of genes that regulate angiogenesis and drug metabolism. With a single exception, C5a caused little evidence of activation of complement-related genes. These studies indicate that endothelial cells respond robustly to C5a by activation of genes related to progressive expression of cell adherence molecules, and cytokines and chemokines in a manner similar to responses induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha and lipopolysaccharide.