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Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) may be defined as adherent cells derived from peripheral blood- or bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells demonstrating acLDL uptake and isolectin-binding capacity. The number of circulating EPCs inversely correlates with the number of cardiovascular risk factors and is reduced in cardiovascular disease. This measurement may therefore serves as a surrogate marker for cardiovascular disease risk. EPC numbers can be modified by various means. However, the effectiveness of risk-factor modification on EPC number and function is currently unknown. Furthermore, EPCs may be used as a potential therapy for a variety of vascular disease states including ischaemia, restenosis and pulmonary hypertension. This review provides an update on multiple factors that affect EPC number as well as highlighting the potential use of EPCs as a novel marker of vascular dysfunction. Furthermore, potential gene- and/or EPC-based approaches to a number of vascular disease states are explored.BioEssays28:261-270, 2006. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.