We have previously reported that VEGF-A, in combination with MCP-5, contributes to leukemia progression within the splenic microenvironment of mice infected with F-MuLV. To study the influence of constitutively elevated VEGF-A levels on the progression of erythroleukemia, mice heterozygous for a VEGF-A "hypermorphic" allele (Vegfhi/+) were inoculated with F-MuLV. Unexpectedly, a significant delay in erythroleukemia was observed in Vegfhi/+ mice when compared with wild-type controls. These results suggested an altered physiologic response arising from elevated VEGF-A levels that decelerated erythroleukemic progression. Characterization of hematopoiesis in Vegfhi/+ spleens showed a higher natural killer cell activity, elevated B cells, and a decrease in T-cell number. Furthermore, higher erythroid progenitors (ie, CD34+, CD36+, and Ter119+ cells) were evident in the bone marrow, spleen, and peripheral blood of Vegfhi/+ mice. The CFU-E levels were significantly elevated in Vegfhi/+ bone marrow cultures, and this elevation was blocked by a neutralizing antibody to VEGF-A receptor (VEGFR-2). Moreover, erythroleukemic mice were treated with recombinant erythropoietin and, similar to diseased Vegfhi/+ mice, showed a delay in disease progression. We propose that a compensatory erythropoietic response combined with increased natural killer (NK) cell activity account for the extended survival of erythroleukemic, Vegfhi/+ mice.