The appropriate guidance and patterning of vessels during vascular development is critical for proper tissue function. The loss of these guidance mechanisms can lead to abnormal vascularization and a number of pathological conditions. The molecular basis of endothelial cell guidance and subsequent tissue specific vascular patterning remains largely unknown in spite of its clinical relevance and biological importance. In this regard, retinal vascular development offers many advantages for studying endothelial cell guidance and the mechanisms by which characteristic vascular patterns are formed. In this review, we will provide an overview of the known mechanisms that mediate vascular patterning during mouse retinal development, synthesizing these data to formulate a model of how growth factors, cellular adhesion molecules, and vascular-associated cells mediate directed endothelial cell migration and appropriate vascular remodeling. Finally, we will discuss the many aspects of retinal vascular development that remain unknown and cite evidence that many of these gaps may be addressed by further studying the guidance cues shared by vascular and neuronal elements in the retina and other parts of the central nervous system.