The VEGF/VPF (vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular permeability factor) ligands and receptors are crucial regulators of vasculogenesis, angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis and vascular permeability in vertebrates. VEGF-A, the prototype VEGF ligand, binds and activates two tyrosine kinase receptors: VEGFR1 (Flt-1) and VEGFR2 (KDR/Flk-1). VEGFR1, which occurs in transmembrane and soluble forms, negatively regulates vasculogenesis and angiogenesis during early embryogenesis, but it also acts as a positive regulator of angiogenesis and inflammatory responses, playing a role in several human diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. The soluble VEGFR1 is overexpressed in placenta in preeclampsia patients. VEGFR2 has critical functions in physiological and pathological angiogenesis through distinct signal transduction pathways regulating proliferation and migration of endothelial cells. VEGFR3, a receptor for the lymphatic growth factors VEGF-C and VEGF-D, but not for VEGF-A, regulates vascular and lymphatic endothelial cell function during embryogenesis. Loss-of-function variants of VEGFR3 have been identified in lymphedema. Formation of tumor lymphatics may be stimulated by tumor-produced VEGF-C, allowing increased spread of tumor metastases through the lymphatics. Mapping the signaling system of these important receptors may provide the knowledge necessary to suppress specific signaling pathways in major human diseases.