Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a regulator of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. To investigate the role of nitric oxide (NO) in VEGF-induced proliferation and in vitro angiogenesis, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were used. VEGF stimulated the growth of HUVEC in an NO-dependent manner. In addition, VEGF promoted the NO-dependent formation of network-like structures in HUVEC cultured in three dimensional (3D) collagen gels. Exposure of cells to VEGF led to a concentration-dependent increase in cGMP levels, an indicator of NO production, that was inhibited by nitro-L-arginine methyl ester. VEGF-stimulated NO production required activation of tyrosine kinases and increases in intracellular calcium, since tyrosine kinase inhibitors and calcium chelators attenuated VEGF-induced NO release. Moreover, two chemically distinct phosphoinositide 3 kinase (PI-3K) inhibitors attenuated NO release after VEGF stimulation. In addition, HUVEC incubated with VEGF for 24 h showed an increase in the amount of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) protein and the release of NO. In summary, both short- and long-term exposure of human EC to VEGF stimulates the release of biologically active NO. While long-term exposure increases eNOS protein levels, short-term stimulation with VEGF promotes NO release through mechanisms involving tyrosine and PI-3K kinases, suggesting that NO mediates aspects of VEGF signaling required for EC proliferation and organization in vitro.