The macromolecular permeability of cultured bovine aortic, bovine venous, and human umbilical vein endothelial cell monolayers was decreased significantly in culture medium containing L-ascorbic acid (Asc Acid; 0.01-0.1 mM) and L-ascorbic acid 2-phosphate (Asc 2-P). Dithiothreitol, which shows reducing activity equivalent to that of Asc Acid, did not affect endothelial permeability. Asc Acid induced a sixfold increase in collagen synthesis by the endothelial cells. The coexistence of L-azetidine 2-carboxylic acid, an inhibitor of collagen synthesis, attenuated the effect of Asc 2-P in a dose-dependent manner. Another collagen synthesis inhibitor, ethyl-3,4-dihydroxybenzoate, also inhibited collagen synthesis and increased endothelial permeability. The decrease in permeability of the endothelial monolayer was dependent on a reduction of the permeability coefficient of the endothelial monolayer. These findings indicate that endothelial barrier function is stimulated by Asc Acid via an increase in collagen synthesis.