Stress-induced p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activity is implicated in pathological remodeling in the heart. For example, constitutive p38 MAPK activation in cardiomyocytes induces pathological features, including myocyte hypertrophy, apoptosis, contractile dysfunction, and fetal gene expression. However, the physiological function of cardiomyocyte p38 MAPK activity in beneficial compensatory vascular remodeling is unclear. This report investigated the functional role and the underlying mechanisms of cardiomyocyte p38 MAPK activity in cardiac remodeling induced by chronic stress. Using both in vitro and in vivo model systems, we found that p38 MAPK activity is required for hypoxia-induced pro-angiogenic activity from cardiomyocytes and that p38 MAPK activation in cardiomyocyte is sufficient to promote paracrine signaling-mediated, pro-angiogenic activity. We further demonstrate that VEGF is a paracrine factor responsible for the p38 MAPK-mediated pro-angiogenic activity from cardiomyocytes and that p38 MAPK pathway activation is sufficient for inducing VEGF secretion from cardiomyocytes in an Sp1-dependent manner. More significantly, cardiomyocyte-specific inactivation of p38α in mouse heart impaired compensatory angiogenesis after pressure overload and promoted early onset of heart failure. In summary, p38αMAPK has a critical role in the cross-talk between cardiomyocytes and vasculature by regulating stress-induced VEGF expression and secretion in cardiomyocytes. We conclude that as part of a stress-induced signaling pathway, p38 MAPK activity significantly contributes to both pathological and compensatory remodeling in the heart.