Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A), a potent stimulus for angiogenesis, is up-regulated in the skin after wounding. Although studies have shown that VEGF is important for wound repair, it is unclear whether this is based solely on its ability to promote angiogenesis or if VEGF can also promote healing by acting directly on non-endothelial cell types. By immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, expression of VEGF receptor-1 (VEGFR-1), but not VEGFR-2, was detected in murine keratinocytes during wound repair and in normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs). The presence of VEGF receptors on NHEKs was verified by binding studies with 125I-VEGF. In vitro, VEGF stimulated the proliferation of NHEKs, an effect that could be blocked by treatment with neutralizing VEGFR-1 antibodies. A role for VEGFR-1 in keratinocytes was also shown in vivo because treatment of excisional wounds with neutralizing VEGFR-1 antibodies delayed re-epithelialization. Treatment with anti-VEGFR-1 antibodies also reduced the number of proliferating keratinocytes at the leading edge of the wound, suggesting that VEGF sends a proliferative signal to these cells. Together, these data describe a novel role for VEGFR-1 in keratinocytes and suggest that VEGF may play several roles in cutaneous wound repair.