Crude Panax ginseng has been documented to possess hair growth activity and is widely used to treat alopecia, but the effects of ginsenoside Rg3 on hair growth have not to our knowledge been determined. The aim of the current study was to identify the molecules through which Rg3 stimulates hair growth. The thymidine incorporation for measuring cell proliferation was determined. We used DNA microarray analysis to measure gene expression levels in dermal papilla (DP) cells upon treatment with Rg3. The mRNA and protein expression levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in human DP cells were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry, respectively. We also used immunohistochemistry assays to detect in vivo changes in VEGF and 3-stemness marker expressions in mouse hair follicles. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction showed dose-dependent increases in VEGF mRNA levels on treatment with Rg3. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that expression of VEGF was significantly up-regulated by Rg3 in a dose-dependent manner in human DP cells and in mouse hair follicles. In addition, the CD8 and CD34 were also up-regulated by Rg3 in the mouse hair follicles. It may be concluded that Rg3 might increase hair growth through stimulation of hair follicle stem cells and it has the potential to be used in hair growth products. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.