Previously, we showed that insulin growth factor (IGF)-1 binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), independent of IGF-1, reduces pathological angiogenesis in a mouse model of the oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR). The current study evaluates novel endothelium-dependent functions of IGFBP-3 including blood retinal barrier (BRB) integrity and vasorelaxation. To evaluate vascular barrier function, either plasmid expressing IGFBP-3 under the regulation of an endothelial-specific promoter or a control plasmid was injected into the vitreous humor of mouse pups (P1) and compared to the non-injected eyes of the same pups undergoing standard OIR protocol. Prior to sacrifice, the mice were given an injection of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). IGFBP-3 plasmid-injected eyes displayed near-normal vessel morphology and enhanced vascular barrier function. Further, in vitro IGFBP-3 protects retinal endothelial cells from VEGF-induced loss of junctional integrity by antagonizing the dissociation of the junctional complexes. To assess the vasodilatory effects of IGFBP-3, rat posterior cerebral arteries were examined in vitro. Intraluminal IGFBP-3 decreased both pressure- and serotonin-induced constrictions by stimulating nitric oxide (NO) release that were blocked by L-NAME or scavenger receptor-B1 neutralizing antibody (SRB1-Ab). Both wild-type and IGF-1-nonbinding mutant IGFBP-3 (IGFBP-3NB) stimulated eNOS activity/NO release to a similar extent in human microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECs). NO release was neither associated with an increase in intracellular calcium nor decreased by Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CamKII) blockade; however, dephosphorylation of eNOS-Thr495 was observed. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activity and Akt-Ser473 phosphorylation were both increased by IGFBP-3 and selectively blocked by the SRB1-Ab or PI3K blocker LY294002. In conclusion, IGFBP-3 mediates protective effects on BRB integrity and mediates robust NO release to stimulate vasorelaxation via activation of SRB1. This response is IGF-1- and calcium-independent, but requires PI3K/Akt activation, suggesting that IGFBP-3 has novel protective effects on retinal and systemic vasculature and may be a therapeutic candidate for ocular complications such as diabetic retinopathy. © 2012 Jarajapu et al.