Developmental assembly of the renal microcirculation is a precise and coordinated process now accessible to experimental scrutiny. Although definition of the cellular and molecular determinants is incomplete, recent findings have reframed concepts and questions about the origins of vascular cells in the glomerulus and the molecules that direct cell recruitment, specialization and morphogenesis. New findings illustrate principles that may be applied to defining critical steps in microvascular repair following glomerular injury. Developmental assembly of endothelial, mesangial and epithelial cells into glomerular capillaries requires that a coordinated, temporally defined series of steps occur in an anatomically ordered sequence. Recent evidence shows that both vasculogenic and angiogenic processes participate. Local signals direct cell migration, proliferation, differentiation, cell-cell recognition, formation of intercellular connections, and morphogenesis. Growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases on vascular cells are important mediators of many of these events. Cultured cell systems have suggested that basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) promote endothelial cell proliferation, migration or morphogenesis, while genetic deletion experiments have defined an important role for PDGF beta receptors and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) B in glomerular development. Receptor tyrosine kinases that convey non-proliferative signals also contribute in kidney and other sites. The EphB1 receptor, one of a diverse class of Eph receptors implicated in neural cell targeting, directs renal endothelial migration, cell-cell recognition and assembly, and is expressed with its ligand in developing glomeruli. Endothelial TIE2 receptors bind angiopoietins (1 and 2), the products of adjacent supportive cells, to signals direct capillary maturation in a sequence that defines cooperative roles for cells of different lineages. Ultimately, definition of the cellular steps and molecular sequence that direct microvascular cell assembly promises to identify therapeutic targets for repair and adaptive remodeling of injured glomeruli.