Angiogenesis is critical for development and repair, and is a prominent feature of many pathological conditions. Based on evidence that insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP)-3 enhances cell motility and activates sphingosine kinase (SphK) in human endothelial cells, we have investigated whether IGFBP-3 plays a role in promoting angiogenesis. IGFBP-3 potently induced network formation by human endothelial cells on Matrigel. Moreover, it up-regulated proangiogenic genes, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 and -9. IGFBP-3 even induced membrane-type 1 MMP (MT1-MMP), which regulates MMP-2 activation. Decreasing SphK1 expression by small interfering RNA (siRNA), blocked IGFBP-3-induced network formation and inhibited VEGF, MT1-MMP but not IGF-I up-regulation. IGF-I activated SphK, leading to sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) formation. The IGF-I effect on SphK activity was blocked by specific inhibitors of IGF-IR, PI3K/Akt and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. The disruption of IGF-I signaling prevented the IGFBP-3 effect on tube formation, SphK activity and VEGF release. Blocking ERK1/2 signaling caused the loss of SphK activation and VEGF and IGF-I up-regulation. Finally, IGFBP-3 dose-dependently stimulated neovessel formation into subcutaneous implants of Matrigel in vivo. Thus, IGFBP-3 positively regulates angiogenesis through involvement of IGF-IR signaling and subsequent SphK/S1P activation.