While neoangiogenesis in diabetes is of greatest clinical significance in the retina, the pathological formation of new blood vesselsalso develops in other vascular beds in diabetes, including the mesentery of the streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat. However, the contribution of bone marrow-derived cells to this process of vasculogenesis is unknown. In this study, male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomised to receive either streptozotocin or vehicle, and their mesenteric vasculature was examined after three weeks. Origins from bone marrow and endothelial cell differentiation were identified by immunolabelling for the stem cell factor receptor, c-kit and von Willebrand factor (vWF), respectively. Expression for the angiogenic chemokine, stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) was assessed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). At three weeks, rats with diabetes had a dramatic (190-fold) increase in lectin-labelled blood vessel profiles in the mesenteric bed (p < 0.0001) in association with a five-fold increase in SDF-1 mRNA (p < 0.01). Immunohistochemical studies identified abundant large, ovoid, lumen-forming, c-kit+ cells in the mesentery of diabetic, but not control, rats. Many of these c-kit+ cells also showed positive immunolabelling for vWF, consistent with endothelial differentiation. In conclusion, cells of bone marrow origin contribute to new vessel formation in the diabetic mesentery. This phenomenon may also apply to the neovascularisation that develops at clinically important sites such as in the retina.