Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a role in angiogenesis and has been shown to be neuroprotective following central nervous system trauma. In the present study we evaluated the pro-angiogenic and neuroprotective effects of an engineered zinc-finger protein transcription factor transactivator targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-ZFP). We used two virus delivery systems, adeno-virus and adeno-associated virus, to examine the effects of early and delayed VEGF-A upregulation after brain trauma, respectively. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were subject to a unilateral fluid percussion injury (FPI) of moderate severity (2.2-2.5 atm) followed by intracerebral microinjection of either adenovirus vector (Adv) or an adeno-associated vector (AAV) carrying the VEGF-ZFP construct. Adv-VEGF-ZFP-treated animals had significantly fewer TUNEL positive cells in the injured penumbra of the cortex (p<0.001) and hippocampus (p=0.001) relative to untreated rats at 72 h post-injury. Adv-VEGF-ZFP treatment significantly improved fEPSP values (p=0.007) in the CA1 region relative to injury alone. Treatment with AAV2-VEGF-ZFP resulted in improved post-injury microvascular diameter and improved functional recovery on the balance beam and rotarod task at 30 days post-injury. Collectively, the results provide supportive evidence for the concept of acute and delayed treatment following TBI using VEGF-ZFP to induce angiogenesis, reduce cell death, and enhance functional recovery.