Blood vessels form extensive networks that nurture all tissues in the body. Abnormal vessel growth and function are hallmarks of cancer and ischemic and inflammatory diseases, and they contribute to disease progression. Therapeutic approaches to block vascular supply have reached the clinic, but limited efficacy and resistance pose unresolved challenges. Recent insights establish how endothelial cells communicate with each other and with their environment to form a branched vascular network. The emerging principles of vascular growth provide exciting new perspectives, the translation of which might overcome the current limitations of pro- and antiangiogenic medicine.