Survivin is strongly expressed in embryonic organs and in tumor cells but is low or absent in differentiated normal tissues. Resting endothelium expresses low levels of survivin but can up-regulate its synthesis on activation to proliferate. The mechanisms responsible for survivin down-regulation in resting conditions are still unknown. We report here that confluence and vascular endothelial-cadherin (VE-cadherin) expression induce contact inhibition of cell growth and survivin down-regulation in the endothelium. Using beta-catenin null and positive isogenic endothelial cell lines we found that the effect requires beta-catenin expression and its association to VE-cadherin cytoplasmic tail. Furthermore, in allantois organ cultures, survivin expression is up-regulated in areas of growing vessels where VE-cadherin is partially dismantled from junctions or in VE-cadherin -/- specimens. Overall, these data indicate that VE-cadherin and beta-catenin may negatively regulate survivin synthesis in endothelial cells. Consistently, in epidermal and pancreatic cell lines or ovarian tumors, epithelial-cadherin (E-cadherin) and survivin expression is inversely related, suggesting a non-cell-specific role of cadherins in reducing survivin synthesis.