PURPOSE. Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is the leading cause of vision loss in chorioretinal diseases involving contact between retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) and endothelial cells (ECs). The aim of this study was to investigate changes in the angiogenic potential of ECs induced by RPE-EC interaction in two models of RPE-EC coculture. METHODS. RPE and ECs were grown in contact or noncontact coculture. Selection of ECs was achieved using magnetic beads coated with antibodies specific for EC surface proteins. Angiogenesis was assessed by analyzing the expression of EC genes involved in angiogenesis by RT-PCR. Tube formation on Matrigel was used as a functional angiogenesis assay. Expression and activity of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) were examined by RT-PCR and zymography, respectively. RESULTS. Coculture of ECs with RPE in the contact model under normoxic conditions induced markedly upregulated EC mRNA expression of 16 genes involved in positive regulation of angiogenesis. Solo ECs subjected to hypoxia demonstrated upregulated expression of the same 16 genes, including VEGF and HIF1. The EC VEGF level was not affected by coculture with RPE in the noncontact model. ECs demonstrated enhanced tube formation on Matrigel after contact coculture with RPE. EC MMP2 mRNA and activity levels were elevated in contact, but not in noncontact, coculture. CONCLUSIONS. Coculture of ECs with RPE under conditions enabling direct EC-RPE contact enhances the proangiogenic potential of ECs under normoxia, to an extent similar to that induced by hypoxia, suggesting that ECs in direct contact with RPE cells might be more prone to pathologic angiogenesis involved in CNV formation.