2020 has been an extraordinary year. The emergence of COVID-19 has driven urgent research in pulmonary and cardiovascular science and other fields. It has also shaped the way that we work with many experimental laboratories shutting down for several months, while bioinformatics approaches and other large data projects have gained prominence. Despite these setbacks, vascular biology research is stronger than ever. On behalf of the European Society of Cardiology Council for Basic Cardiovascular Science (ESC CBCS), here we review some of the vascular biology research highlights for 2020. This review is not exhaustive and there are many outstanding vascular biology publications that we were unable to cite due to page limits. Notwithstanding this, we have provided a snapshot of vascular biology research excellence in 2020 and identify topics that are in the ascendency and likely to gain prominence in coming years.