Angiogenesis is a complex process that involves multiple cellular events. In addition to receiving inputs from a range of stimulatory and inhibitory factors, endothelial cells undergoing angiogenesis make multiple interactions with the extracellular matrix and with other cell types in the stroma. Recreating angiogenesis in vitro is probably an impossible goal; however, a number of assays have been developed that recapitulate many of the key events of the process. These assays are indispensible tools for investigating the signalling pathways that control the formation of new blood vessels. In the present paper, we review the organotypic co-culture assay of angiogenesis - until recently, a comparatively underemployed assay, but one with a number of powerful advantages for angiogenesis research. We give a set of optimized protocols for its use, including protocols for siRNA (small interfering RNA)-based screens, and we discuss appropriate methods for obtaining quantitative data from the assay.