Abstract The propagation of a vector meson (ϱ and ω) in dense asymmetric nuclear matter (with the number density of protons and neutrons different) is studied. Of particular interest is the density dependence of the vector meson masses, as also their variation with the asymmetry parameter, mass splitting among the ϱ isospin multiplets and the change of the form of the ϱ meson self-energy or the polarization tensor ( II μν ) when the p ↔ n symmetry is broken. Contributions of both the Fermi sea and Dirac vacuum have been considered. It is shown that while the density dependent dressing of the vector meson propagator lifts the dispersion characteristics into the region of instability, the Dirac vacuum on the other hand contributes with opposite sign, thereby enhancing the possibility of stable collective modes even for higher values of vector meson momenta. The role of tensor coupling on the dispersion characteristics is also presented.