Micromolar concentrations of sodium orthovanadate stimulated the proliferation of bovine capillary endothelial cells, but not bovine aortic endothelial cells. Vanadate was equally potent at inducing protein tyrosine phosphorylation and changes in morphology in both types of cells. However, vanadate treatment lead to an inhibition of protein tyrosine kinase activity in the aortic endothelial cells, but not the capillary endothelial cells. In capillary endothelial cells, the effect of vanadate was additive with basic FGF (bFGF) at low concentrations of bFGF. There was no interaction between bFGF and vanadate in aortic endothelial cells. TGF-β, which inhibits the induction of endothelial cell proliferation by bFGF, appeared to shift the dose response curve to vanadate in capillary endothelial cells, increasing the proliferative effect of vanadate at low vanadate concentrations, but decreasing the proliferative effect at higher vanadate concentrations. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.