Both blood vessels and nerves are vital channels to and from tissues. Recent genetic insights show that they have much more in common than was originally anticipated. They use similar signals and principles to differentiate, grow and navigate towards their targets. Moreover, the vascular and nervous systems cross-talk and, when dysregulated, this contributes to medically important diseases. The realization that both systems use common genetic pathways should not only form links between vascular biology and neuroscience, but also promises to accelerate the discovery of new mechanistic insights and therapeutic opportunities.