Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an endothelial cell-specific mitogen in vitro and an angiogenic inducer in a variety of in vivo models. Hypoxia has been shown to be a major inducer of VEGF gene transcription. The tyrosine kinases Flt-1 (VEGFR-1) and Flk-1/KDR (VEGFR-2) are high-affinity VEGF receptors. The role of VEGF in developmental angiogenesis is emphasized by the finding that loss of a single VEGF allele results in defective vascularization and early embryonic lethality. VEGF is critical also for reproductive and bone angiogenesis. Substantial evidence also implicates VEGF as a mediator of pathological angiogenesis. In situ hybridization studies demonstrate expression of VEGF mRNA in the majority of human tumors. Anti-VEGF monoclonal antibodies and other VEGF inhibitors block the growth of several tumor cell lines in nude mice. Clinical trials with various VEGF inhibitors in a variety of malignancies are ongoing. Very recently, an anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody (bevacizumab; Avastin) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a first-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer in combination with chemotherapy. Furthermore, VEGF is implicated in intraocular neovascularization associated with diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.