BACKGROUND: Several studies demonstrate the role of adipose mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) in angiogenesis. The angiogenic mechanism has been ascribed to paracrine factors since these cells secrete a plenty of signal molecules and growth factors. Recently it has been suggested that besides soluble factors, extracellular vesicles (EVs) that include exosomes and microvesicles may play a major role in cell-to-cell communication. It has been shown that EVs are implicated in the angiogenic process. RESULTS: Herein we studied whether EVs released by ASCs may mediate the angiogenic activity of these cells. Our results demonstrated that ASC-derived EVs induced in vitro vessel-like structure formation by human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC). EV-stimulated HMEC when injected subcutaneously within Matrigel in SCID mice formed vessels. Treatment of ASCs with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) stimulated the secretion of EVs, changed their protein composition and enhanced the angiogenic potential. At variance of EVs released in basal conditions, PDGF-EVs carried c-kit and SCF that played a role in angiogenesis as specific blocking antibodies inhibited in vitro vessel-like structure formation. The enhanced content of matrix metalloproteinases in PDGF-EVs may also account for their angiogenic activity. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that EVs released by ASCs may contribute to the ASC-induced angiogenesis and suggest that PDGF may trigger the release of EVs with an enhanced angiogenic potential.