In this study bovine aortic endothelial cells were co-cultured with astrocytes from fetal Wistar Kyoto rats. Endothelial cells growing on type-I collagen, co-cultured with astrocytes, showed various stages of development. Although some cells appeared to be mature, horseradish peroxidase penetrated within 1 min of incubation through the intercellular junctions of these endothelial elements maintained on type-I collagen. In contrast, endothelial cells on type-IV collagen, co-cultured with astrocytes, were well developed; their intercellular junctions were well established, and plasmalemmal vesicles reduced in number. As a result, horseradish peroxidase was unable to penetrate through the endothelial cells grown on type-IV collagen and co-cultured with astrocytes because of the reduced extent of the junctional and vesicular transport. These findings reveal that (1) type-IV collagen is essential for the differentiation of endothelial cells, (2) endothelial cell-astrocyte interactions occur during co-culture, and (3) endothelial permeability depends on astrocyte-produced factors, in addition to type-IV collagen.