This study evaluates inhibition of human squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) by a replication-competent multimutated herpes simplex virus type 1 (G207). Infectivity and cytotoxicity of the G207 virus were evaluated in vitro in seven human SCC cell lines. In vivo effects of the G207 virus on human tumor xenografts in an athymic rat model were then investigated by injecting established tumors with 1 x 10(7) virus particles and monitoring tumor growth. In addition, oral cavity tumors in immunocompetent hamster were infected with the G207 virus by selective intraarterial perfusion and the tumor response was monitored. In vitro studies demonstrated infection rates, measured 24 hr after exposure, exceeding 40% at an MOI of 2 in five of seven human SCC cell lines. Cytotoxic effects, as measured by percent cell death on day 5, exceeded 90% in five of seven SCC cell lines. In vivo inhibition of tumor growth in an athymic rat model was seen (p < 0.005) and in two of the cell lines a complete clinical response was seen in 12 of 14 tumors. In the hamster model, selective intraarterial perfusion with G207 virus showed selective infection of the tumor cells, with sparing of the adjacent normal mucosa, which leading to significant suppression of tumor growth (p < 0.005). The G207 virus displayed efficient and selective cytotoxicity and tumor growth inhibition against human SCC and may prove useful as a therapeutic agent for head and neck SCC.