Here we investigated the importance of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling to the de novo formation of embryonic blood vessels, vasculogenesis, as opposed to the maintenance of blood vessels. We found that antagonizing the activity of the VEGF signaling pathway by using soluble VEGF receptor 1 (sFlt1) or VEGF antibodies inhibited vasculogenesis that occurs in embryos and in cultures of 7.5 days postcoitus prevascular mesoderm. Antagonist treatment resulted in the formation of clusters of endothelial cells not normally observed during vasculogenesis. In contrast, when embryos with established vasculatures or cultures of vascularized mesoderm were treated with sFlt1 or VEGF antibodies, no discernible alterations to the preexisting blood vessels were observed. These observations indicate that, although VEGF signaling is required to promote the mesenchymal to epithelial transition by which angioblasts assemble into nascent endothelial tubes, it is not required by endothelial cells to maintain their organization as an endothelium. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.