Vascular endothelial growth factor-A is widely used in clinical trials for the treatment of cardiac ischemia. VEGF-A was recently suggested to act in a proinflammatory manner, which could aggravate adjacent atherogenesis in VEGF-A-based therapy. To assess potential bystander effects, VEGF-A was focally overexpressed in advanced atherosclerotic plaques in ApoE-/- mice. Sheer-induced carotid artery plaques were transluminally incubated with Ad.hVEGF-A leading to neointimal overexpression of VEGF-A. Ad.hVEGF-A treatment of pre-existing lesions was seen to promote plaque expansion, with a concomitant increase in macrophage and lipid content, whereas it lowered collagen content. In general, Ad.hVEGF-A-treated plaques displayed a more vulnerable phenotype. VEGF-A overexpression was not accompanied by increased microvessel development in the neointima, suggesting that VEGF-A destabilizes atherosclerotic plaques through an angiogenesis-independent mechanism. Intravital microscopy confirmed that treatment with Ad.hVEGF-A led to an increased monocyte adhesion, which was mediated by a VCAM-1/PECAM-1-dependent pathway. VEGF-A indeed induced a differential expression of VCAM-1 and PECAM-1 in endothelial cells. Our data underline the importance of regular monitoring of stenotic vessels adjacent to the site of VEGF-A application. We propose that VCAM-1/PECAM-1-directed cotherapy may be an efficient strategy to prevent bystander effects of focal VEGF-A therapy in patients suffering from cardiovascular disease.