Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are implicated in a range of pathological conditions, suggesting a natural therapeutic role for EPCs in angiogenesis. However, current angiogenic therapies involving EPC transplantation are inefficient due to rejection of donor EPCs. One solution is to derive an expanded population of EPCs from stem cells in vitro, to be re-introduced as a therapeutic transplant. To demonstrate the therapeutic potential of EPCs we performed in vitro transplantation of EPCs into endothelial cell (EC) tubules using a gel-based tubule formation assay. We also described the production of highly angiogenic EPC-comparable cells from pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) by direct differentiation using EC-conditioned medium (ECCM). RESULTS: The effect on tubule complexity and longevity varied with transplantation quantity: significant effects were observed when tubules were transplanted with a quantity of EPCs equivalent to 50 of the number of ECs originally seeded on to the assay gel but not with 10 EPC transplantation. Gene expression of the endothelial markers VEGFR2, VE-cadherin and CD31, determined by qPCR, also changed dynamically during transplantation. ECCM-treated ESC-derived progenitor cells exhibited angiogenic potential, demonstrated by in vitro tubule formation, and endothelial-specific gene expression equivalent to natural EPCs. CONCLUSIONS: We concluded the effect of EPCs is cumulative and beneficial, relying on upregulation of the angiogenic activity of transplanted cells combined with an increase in proliferative cell number to produce significant effects upon transplantation. Furthermore, EPCs derived from ESCs may be developed for use as a rapidly-expandable alternative for angiogenic transplantation therapy.