To determine whether insulin action on endothelial cells promotes or protects against atherosclerosis, we generated apolipoprotein E null mice in which the insulin receptor gene was intact or conditionally deleted in vascular endothelial cells. Insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, plasma lipids, and blood pressure were not different between the two groups, but atherosclerotic lesion size was more than 2-fold higher in mice lacking endothelial insulin signaling. Endothelium-dependent vasodilation was impaired and endothelial cell VCAM-1 expression was increased in these animals. Adhesion of mononuclear cells to endothelium in vivo was increased 4-fold compared with controls but reduced to below control values by a VCAM-1-blocking antibody. These results provide definitive evidence that loss of insulin signaling in endothelium, in the absence of competing systemic risk factors, accelerates atherosclerosis. Therefore, improving insulin sensitivity in the endothelium of patients with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes may prevent cardiovascular complications.