Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C and VEGF-D require proteolytic cleavage of the carboxy terminal silk-homology domain for activation. To study the functions of the VEGF-C propeptides, we engineered a chimeric growth factor protein, VEGF-CAC, composed of the amino- and carboxy-terminal propeptides of VEGF-C fused to the receptor-activating core domain of VEGF. Like VEGF-C, VEGF-CAC underwent proteolytic cleavage, and like VEGF, it bound to and activated VEGF receptor-1 and VEGF receptor-2, but not the VEGF-C receptor VEGF receptor-3. VEGF-CAC also bound to neuropilins in a heparin-dependent manner. Strikingly, when VEGF-CAC was expressed via an adenovirus vector in the ear skin of immunodeficient mice, it proved to be a more potent inducer of capillary angiogenesis than VEGF. The VEGF-CAC-induced vessels differed greatly from those induced by VEGF, as they formed a very dense and fine network of pericyte and basement membrane-covered capillaries that were functional, as shown by lectin perfusion experiments. VEGF-CAC could prove useful in proangiogenic therapies in patients experiencing tissue ischemia.