BACKGROUND: Heparan sulfate (HS) is an important regulator of the assembly and activity of various angiogenic signalling complexes. However, the significance of precisely defined HS structures in regulating cytokine-dependent angiogenic cellular functions and signalling through receptors regulating angiogenic responses remains unclear. Understanding such structure-activity relationships is important for the rational design of HS fragments that inhibit HS-dependent angiogenic signalling complexes. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We synthesized a series of HS oligosaccharides ranging from 7 to 12 saccharide residues that contained a repeating disaccharide unit consisting of iduronate 2-O-sulfate linked to glucosamine with or without N-sulfate. The ability of oligosaccharides to compete with HS for FGF2 and VEGF165 binding significantly increased with oligosaccharide length and sulfation. Correspondingly, the inhibitory potential of oligosaccharides against FGF2- and VEGF165-induced endothelial cell responses was greater in longer oligosaccharide species that were comprised of disaccharides bearing both 2-O- and N-sulfation (2SNS). FGF2- and VEGF165-induced endothelial cell migration were inhibited by longer 2SNS oligosaccharide species with 2SNS dodecasaccharide activity being comparable to that of receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeting FGFR or VEGFR-2. Moreover, the 2SNS dodecasaccharide ablated FGF2- or VEGF165-induced phosphorylation of FAK and assembly of F-actin in peripheral lamellipodia-like structures. In contrast, FGF2-induced endothelial cell proliferation was only moderately inhibited by longer 2SNS oligosaccharides. Inhibition of FGF2- and VEGF165-dependent endothelial tube formation strongly correlated with oligosaccharide length and sulfation with 10-mer and 12-mer 2SNS oligosaccharides being the most potent species. FGF2- and VEGF165-induced activation of MAPK pathway was inhibited by biologically active oligosaccharides correlating with the specific phosphorylation events in FRS2 and VEGFR-2, respectively. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: These results demonstrate structure-function relationships for synthetic HS saccharides that suppress endothelial cell migration, tube formation and signalling induced by key angiogenic cytokines.