Endothelial injury is a major manifestation of septic shock induced by LPS. Recently, LPS was shown to induce apoptosis in different types of endothelial cells. In this study, we observed that pretreatment with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a known cell survival factor, blocked LPS-induced apoptosis in endothelial cells. We then further defined this LPS-induced apoptotic pathway and its inhibition by VEGF. We found that LPS treatment increased caspase-3 and caspase-1 activities and induced the cleavage of focal adhesion kinase. LPS also augmented expression of the pro-apoptotic protein Bax and the tumor suppressor gene p53. The pro-apoptotic Bax was found to translocate to the mitochondria from the cytosol following stimulation with LPS. Pretreatment of endothelial cells with VEGF inhibited the induction of both Bax and p53 as well as the activation of caspase-3. These data suggest that VEGF inhibits LPS-induced endothelial apoptosis by blocking pathways that lead to caspase activation.