Migration of endothelial cells is requisite to wound repair and angiogenesis. Since the glycoprotein SPARC (secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine) is associated with remodeling, cellular migration, and angiogenesis in vitro, we questioned whether SPARC might influence the motility of endothelial cells. In this study we show that, in the absence of serum, exogenous SPARC inhibits the migration of bovine aortic endothelial cells induced by bFGF. Similar results were obtained from two different assays, in which cell migration was measured in a Boyden chamber and in monolayer culture after an experimental wound. Without bFGF, the migration of endothelial cells was unaffected by SPARC. The inhibitory effect of SPARC on cell motility was dose-dependent, required the presence of Ca2+, was mimicked by synthetic peptides from the N- and C-terminal Ca(2+)-binding domains of the protein, and was not seen in the presence of serum. Modulation of the activities of secreted and cell-associated proteases, including plasminogen activators and metalloproteinases, appeared not to be responsible for the effects that we observed on the motility of endothelial cells. Moreover, a molecular interaction between SPARC and bFGF was not detected, and SPARC did not interfere with the binding of bFGF to high-affinity receptors on endothelial cells. Finally, in culture medium that contained serum, SPARC inhibited the incorporation of [3H]-thymidine into newly synthesized DNA, both in the absence and presence of bFGF. However, DNA synthesis was not affected by SPARC when the cells were plated on gelatin or fibronectin in serum-free medium. We propose that the combined action of a serum factor and SPARC regulates both endothelial cell proliferation and migration and coordinates these events during morphogenetic processes such as wound repair and angiogenesis.