Angiogenesis, the growth of blood vessels, is a fundamental biological process that controls embryonic development and is also involved in numerous life-threatening human diseases. Much work in the field of angiogenesis research has centred on the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-VEGF receptor system. The Tie receptors and their angiopoietin (Ang) ligands have been identified as the second vascular tissue-specific receptor Tyr kinase system. Ang-Tie signalling is essential during embryonic vessel assembly and maturation, and functions as a key regulator of adult vascular homeostasis. The structural characteristics and the spatio-temporal regulation of the expression of receptors and ligands provide unique insights into the functions of this vascular signalling system.