Ocular neovascularization often leads to severe vision loss. The role of bone marrow-derived cells (BMCs) in the development of ocular neovascularization, and its significance, is increasingly being recognized. In this review, we discuss their contribution and the potential mechanisms that mediate the effect of BMCs on the progression of ocular neovascularization. The sequence of events by which BMCs participate in ocular neovascularization can be roughly divided into four phases, i.e., mobilization, migration, adhesion and differentiation. This process is delicately regulated and liable to be affected by multiple factors. Cytokines such as vascular endothelial growth factor, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and erythropoietin are involved in the mobilization of BMCs. Studies have also demonstrated a key role of cytokines such as stromal cell-derived factor-1, tumor necrosis factor-α, as well as vascular endothelial growth factor, in regulating the migration of BMCs. The adhesion of BMCs is mainly regulated by vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and vascular endothelial cadherin. However, the mechanisms regulating the differentiation of BMCs are largely unknown at present. In addition, BMCs secrete cytokines that interact with the microenvironment of ocular neovascularization; their contribution to ocular neovascularization, especially choroidal neovascularization, can be aggravated by several risk factors. An extensive regulatory network is thought to modulate the role of BMCs in the development of ocular neovascularization. A comprehensive understanding of the involved mechanisms will help in the development of novel therapeutic strategies related to BMCs. In this review, we have limited the discussion to the recent progress in this field, especially the research conducted at our laboratory.