Vascular permeability factor (VPF) also known as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is a dimeric protein that affects endothelial cell (EC) and vascular functions including enhancement of microvascular permeability and stimulation of EC growth. To investigate the structural features of VPF/VEGF necessary for efficient dimerization, secretion, and biological activities, we employed site-directed mutagenesis with a Cos-1 cell expression system. Several cysteine residues essential for VPF dimerization were identified by mutation analysis of the Cys-25, Cys-56, and Cys-67 residues. Mutant VPF isoforms lacking either of these cysteines were secreted as monomers and were completely inactive in both vascular permeability and endothelial cell mitotic assays. VPF Cys-145 mutant protein was efficiently secreted as a glycosylated, dimeric polypeptide, but had a reduction in biological activities. The site of N-linked glycosylation was directly identified as Asn-74, which, when mutated produced an inefficiently secreted dimeric protein without post-translational glycosylation, yet maintained full vascular permeability activity. Finally, we found that one VPF mutant isoform Cys-101 was not secreted and this mutant functioned as a dominant-negative suppressor of wild-type VPF secretion as demonstrated by co-expression assays in Cos-1 cells.