The angiogenic capacity of the class 1 heparin-binding growth factor from bovine brain, an anionic endothelial cell mitogen of Mr 16 000, has been evaluated. Its ability to induce the growth of new blood vessels has been assessed by means of two established assay systems. On the embryonic chick chorioallantoic membrane dose-response studies demonstrate that 160 ng (10 pmol) of mitogen is required to induce angiogenesis in greater than 50% of the eggs within 72 h. In the presence of 1 unit of exogenous heparin only 40 ng of mitogen (2.5 pmol) is needed to induce a similar response. Moreover, this occurs within 48 h, indicating that heparin also augments the angiogenic response by enhancing the rate of induction of angiogenesis. Eighty nanograms (5 pmol) of mitogen also induces the ingrowth of new blood vessels into the rabbit cornea, both in the presence and in the absence of heparin. These results establish that the class 1 heparin-binding growth factor from bovine brain is an angiogenesis factor. Importantly, the neovascularization induced by this angiogenesis factor is enhanced by heparin. The mechanistic implications for neovascularization under certain normal and pathological conditions are discussed.