Transplantation of bone marrow cells as well as circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) enhances neovascularization after ischemia. The chemokine receptor CXCR4 is essential for migration and homing of hematopoietic stem cells. Therefore, we investigated the role of CXCR4 and its downstream signaling cascade for the angiogenic capacity of cultured human EPC. Ex vivo, differentiated EPC derived from peripheral blood abundantly expressed CXCR4. Incubation of EPC from healthy volunteers with neutralizing antibodies against CXCR4 profoundly inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor- and stromal-derived factor-1-induced migration as well as EPC-induced angiogenesis in an ex vivo assay. Preincubation of transplanted EPC with CXCR4 antibody reduced EPC incorporation and impaired blood-flow recovery in ischemic hindlimbs of nude mice (57+/-4% of normal perfusion versus untreated EPC: 80+/-11%, P<0.001). Bone marrow mononuclear cells (BM-MNC) or EPC of heterozygous CXCR4(+/-) mice displayed reduced CXCR4 expression and disclosed impaired in vivo capacity to enhance recovery of ischemic blood flow in nude mice (blood flow 27+/-11% versus 66+/-25% using wild-type cells, P<0.01). Importantly, impaired blood flow in ischemic CXCR4(+/-) mice was rescued by injection of wild-type BM-MNC. Next, we investigated the role of CXCR4 for functional capacities of EPC from patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Surface expression of CXCR4 was similar in EPC from patients with CAD compared with healthy controls. However, basal Janus kinase (JAK)-2 phosphorylation was significantly reduced and less responsive to stromal-derived factor-1 in EPC from patients with CAD compared with healthy volunteers, indicating that CXCR4-mediated JAK-2 signaling is dysregulated in EPC from patients with CAD. The CXCR4 receptor signaling profoundly modulates the angiogenic activity and homing capacity of cultured human EPC. Disturbance of CXCR4 signaling, as demonstrated by reduced JAK-2 phosphorylation, may contribute to functional impairment of EPC from patients with CAD. Stimulating CXCR4 signaling might improve functional properties of EPC and may rescue impaired neovascularization capacity of EPC derived from patients with CAD.