Multiple cellular processes are coordinated during the development of the embryonic vasculature to produce a primary vessel network that interfaces correctly with other embryonic structures. However, little is known about the signals involved in vascular patterning. On p. 1503, Hogan and colleagues propose that the neural tube is a midline signalling centre for embryonic vascular pattern formation in higher vertebrates. They show first that, in mice, ectopic neural tubes recruit a perineural vascular plexus(PNVP), a capillary bed that forms around the developing brain and spinal cord at midgestation. Next, they report that neural tube expression of VEGFA, a signalling molecule involved in vascular patterning, is spatially and temporally correlated with murine PNVP formation. Finally, they test the role of VEGFA in an explant model and conclude that VEGFA is a necessary component of the vascular patterning signal produced by the neural tube.