The development and endocrine function of the ovarian corpus luteum (CL) are dependent on the growth of new capillary vessels. Although several molecules have been implicated as mediators of CL angiogenesis, at present there is no direct evidence for the involvement of any. Here we report the unexpected finding that treatment with truncated soluble Flt-1 receptors, which inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) bioactivity, resulted in virtually complete suppression of CL angiogenesis in a rat model of hormonally induced ovulation. This effect was associated with inhibition of CL development and progesterone release. Failure of maturation of the endometrium was also observed. Areas of ischemic necrosis were demonstrated in the corpora lutea (CLs) of treated animals. However, no effect on the preexisting ovarian vasculature was observed. These findings demonstrate that, in spite of the redundancy of potential mediators, VEGF is essential for CL angiogenesis. Furthermore, they have implications for the control of fertility and the treatment of ovarian disorders characterized by hypervascularity and hyperplasia.