Following vascular occlusion, development of collateral circulation occurs in at least two time-related phases: (1) the fast enhancement of the function of preexisting channels and (2) the slow formation of new vessels. Inasmuch as the renin-angiotensin system can act as a protective mechanism against local ischemia by activating preexisting collateral vessels, it is of interest to establish whether angiotensin II also produces stimulation of new vessel formation. Angiotensin II or cholecystokinin, an unrelated peptide, was incorporated in a slow-release formulation polyacrylamide gel and implanted in a pocket made in the rabbit cornea. Periodic examinations revealed that angiotensin II significantly stimulates new vessel formation; maximum values were attained in approximately 2 to 3 weeks. In contrast, cholecystokinin or polyacrylamide gel alone failed to stimulate any significant new vessel formation. Positive neovascularization was present in 85% of the total number of corneas implanted with angiotensin II, whereas 14% and 8% positive results were seen in the corneas implanted with either cholecystokinin or polyacrylamide gel alone, respectively. It is concluded that angiotensin II not only facilitates the activation of preexisting collateral vascular pathways but also has angiogenic properties and therefore could play an active role not only in the fast but also in the slow phase of the development of collateral circulation.