Cardiovascular diseases account for more than half of total mortality before the age of 75 in industrialized countries. To develop therapies promoting the compensatory growth of blood vessels could be superior to palliative surgical interventions. Therefore, much effort has been put into investigating underlying mechanisms. Depending on the initial trigger, growth of blood vessels in adult organisms proceeds via two major processes, angiogenesis and arteriogenesis. While angiogenesis is induced by hypoxia and results in new capillaries, arteriogenesis is induced by physical forces, most importantly fluid shear stress. Consequently, chronically elevated fluid shear stress was found to be the strongest trigger under experimental conditions. Arteriogenesis describes the remodelling of pre-existing arterio-arteriolar anastomoses to completely developed and functional arteries. In both growth processes, enlargement of vascular wall structures was proposed to be covered by proliferation of existing wall cells. Recently, increasing evidence emerges, implicating a pivotal role for circulating cells, above all blood monocytes, in vascular growth processes. Since it has been shown that monocytes/ macrophage release a cocktail of chemokines, growth factors and proteases involved in vascular growth, their contribution seems to be of a paracrine fashion. A similar role is currently discussed for various populations of bone-marrow derived stem cells and endothelial progenitors. In contrast, the initial hypothesis that these cells -after undergoing a (trans-)differentiation- contribute by a structural integration into the growing vessel wall, is increasingly challenged.