Vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular permeability factor (VEGF/VPF) promotes the repair of injured vessels by stimulating angiogenesis. VEGF/VPF reportedly has cytoprotective activity but no study has shown the protective effect of VEGF/VPF on glomerular endothelial cells. We examined whether recombinant VEGF/VPF121 and VEGF/VPF165 isoforms could prevent injury of glomerular endothelial cells. Mild glomerular injury was induced in rats by an intravenous-injection of a limited dose of anti-Thy-1.1 antibody to obtain lesions similar to those found in the human disease. Recombinant VEGF/VPF165, VEGF/VPF121 or BSA was administered 4 h before the injection of the antibody, and once daily for 3 days. In the BSA-injected rats, mesangial cell lysis and endothelial cell injury in dilated capillary tufts were evident without endothelial cell apoptosis on days 1-4. Thereafter, cell proliferation and repair began and remodeling of the glomeruli was completed by day 28. Macrophages but not polymorphonuclear leukocytes accumulated significantly in the glomeruli on days 1-4. Treatment with VEGF/VPF isoform protected endothelial cells but not mesangial cells from destruction on day 1, and accelerated the repair of both types of cells, which was completed by day 18, 10 days earlier than that of the control animals. The results indicate that VEGF/VPF121 or VEGF/VPF165 can protect glomerular endothelial cells against injury, independent of apoptosis-inhibition activity, thereby promoting reconstruction of glomeruli. The protective effect of VEGF/VPF on endothelial cells suggests that it could provide therapeutic benefit for certain kidney diseases.