Oxidative stress plays critical roles in initiation and/or worsening of respiratory disease process. Although reactive oxygen species (ROS) are shown to cause vascular leakage, the mechanisms by which ROS induce an increase in vascular permeability are not clearly understood. In this study, we have used a murine model to evaluate the effect of hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) to examine roles of ROS and the molecular mechanism in vascular permeability. The results have revealed that ROS levels, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression, hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha protein level, airway hyperresponsiveness, and vascular permeability are increased after inhalation of H(2)O(2). Administration of antioxidants markedly reduced plasma extravasation and VEGF levels in lungs treated with H(2)O(2). These results indicate that ROS may modulate vascular permeability via upregulation of VEGF expression.