Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression correlates with microvessel density, stage, malignant ascites, metastasis, and survival in ovarian cancer. By transducing VEGF165 into a nontumorigenic rat ovarian surface epithelial cell line (ROSE199), we investigated the direct effect of an angiogenic phenotype on tumor development. The neu oncogene, which is overexpressed in >30% of ovarian cancers, was used in comparison. Neu-transfected ROSE199 cells showed phenotypic characteristics of transformation in vitro with an abundance of focus-forming units in monolayer cultures and anchorage-independent growth in soft agar. In contrast, VEGF-secreting ROSE199 cells (VR) retained normal morphology and in vitro growth characteristics (e.g., proliferation rate) compared with parental ROSE199 cells. Interestingly, injection of VR cells into athymic mice formed malignant ascites in 100% of the animals when injected into the peritoneum and developed vascularized tumors in 85% of the mice when injected s.c. Furthermore, blocking VEGF-mediated signaling by the Flk-1/KDR receptor kinase inhibitor SU5416 significantly inhibited the growth of VR tumors. To validate that the proangiogenic switch is responsible for tumor development, the angiogenic phenotype was balanced by the inducible coexpression of endostatin under the control of Tet-activated promoter. Coexpression of endostatin along with VEGF reversed the tumorigenic phenotype of VR cells. These studies show that alterations in the angiogenic characteristics of ovarian surface epithelium may play an important role in the etiology of ovarian cancer, and that inhibition of angiogenesis can be effective in the treatment of epithelial ovarian cancer.