Endometrial growth and repair after menstruation are associated with profound angiogenesis. Abnormalities in these processes result in excessive or unpredictable bleeding patterns and are common in many women. It is therefore important to understand which factors regulate normal endometrial angiogenesis. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an endothelial cell-specific mitogen that plays an important role in normal and pathological angiogenesis. In this study we show that expression of VEGF is regulated by hypoxia in human endometrium. Culture in vitro for 24 h under hypoxic conditions resulted in a 2- to 6-fold increase in VEGF secretion by both stromal and epithelial cells isolated from human endometrium. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to measure VEGF messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) levels in these cells. After hypoxia, VEGF mRNA levels increased 1.8-fold in stromal cells and 3.4-fold in glandular epithelial cells. The mRNA for each VEGF splice variant increased to an equal extent. The increase in VEGF secretion by stromal and epithelial cells in response to hypoxia was not altered by treatment at the same time with estradiol or progesterone. In situ hybridization of human endometrium during menstruation, when steroid levels are low but the tissue is subject to ischemia, showed strong hybridization to VEGF mRNA in both stromal and glandular cells. These results show that local factors, such as hypoxia, can regulate VEGF expression in the endometrium. This may play an important part in normal endometrial repair after menstruation. The secretion of VEGF by endometrial cells under hypoxic conditions may also be important in the pathogenesis of endometriosis, because it would be predicted to assist revascularization of desquamated endometrial explants when they attach at ectopic sites.