Dysfunctional endothelium is associated with and, likely, predates clinical complications of diabetes mellitus, by promoting increased vascular permeability and thrombogenicity. Irreversible advanced glycation end products (AGEs), resulting from nonenzymatic glycation and oxidation of proteins or lipids, are found in plasma, vessel wall, and tissues and have been linked to the development of diabetic complications. The principal means through which AGEs exert their cellular effects is via specific cellular receptors, one of which, receptor for AGE (RAGE), is expressed by endothelium. We report that blockade of RAGE inhibits AGE-induced impairment of endothelial barrier function, and reverse, in large part, the early vascular hyperpermeability observed in diabetic rats. Inhibition of AGE- and diabetes-mediated hyperpermeability by antioxidants, both in vitro and in vivo, suggested the central role of AGE-RAGE-induced oxidant stress in the development of hyperpermeability. Taken together, these data support the concept that ligation of AGEs by endothelial RAGE induces cellular dysfunction, at least in part by an oxidant-sensitive mechanism, contributing to vascular hyperpermeability in diabetes, and that RAGE is central to this pathologic process.