The formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) is critical for the growth of tumours and is a dominant feature in various angiogenic diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, arthritis, haemangiomas and psoriasis. Recognition of the potential therapeutic benefits of controlling pathological angiogenesis has led to a search for angiogenesis inhibitors. Here we report that 2-methoxyoestradiol, an endogenous oestrogen metabolite of previously unknown function, is a potent inhibitor of endothelial cell proliferation and migration as well as angiogenesis in vitro. Moreover, when administered orally in mice, it strongly inhibits the neovascularization of solid tumors and suppresses their growth. Unlike the angiostatic steroids of corticoid structure, it does not require the co-administration of heparin or sulphated cyclodextrins for activity. Thus, 2-methoxyoestradiol is the first steroid to have high antiangiogenic activity by itself. Our results suggest that this compound may have therapeutic potential in cancer and other angiogenic diseases.