Vascular permeability is a complex process involving the coordinated regulation of multiple signaling pathways in the endothelial cell. It has long been documented that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) greatly enhances microvascular permeability; however, the molecular mechanisms controlling VEGF-induced permeability remain unknown. Treatment of microvascular endothelial cells with VEGF led to an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. ROS are required for VEGF-induced permeability as treatment with the free radical scavenger, N-acetylcysteine, inhibited this effect. Additionally, treatment with VEGF caused ROS-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation of both vascular-endothelial (VE)-cadherin and beta-catenin. Rac1 was required for the VEGF-induced increase in permeability and adherens junction protein phosphorylation. Knockdown of Rac1 inhibited VEGF-induced ROS production consistent with Rac lying upstream of ROS in this pathway. Collectively, these data suggest that VEGF leads to a Rac-mediated generation of ROS, which, in turn, elevates the tyrosine phosphorylation of VE-cadherin and beta-catenin, ultimately regulating adherens junction integrity.