An adenovirus, AdCDTK, expressing both bacterial cytosine deaminase (CD) and herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSVTK) was constructed and introduced into glioma cells. AdCDTK selectively rendered glioma cells sensitive to both 5-fluorocytosine (5-FCyt) and ganciclovir (GCV) (termed AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV). AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV not only potently mediated apoptosis and the arrest of glioma cell growth in vitro, but also significantly increased the survival time of glioma-bearing rats as compared with controls. The 90-day survival time was observed in 50% of rats. Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) further enhanced the tumor cell killing of AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV. In the group of AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV/IFN-alpha, the average survival time was significantly increased, and the average tumor size was smaller than that in the group of AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV. Ninety-day survival increased from 50% in the group of AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV to 75% in the group of AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV/IFN-alpha. Complete tumor regression was observed in 50% of rats in the group of AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV/IFN-alpha. The data indicate that AdCDTK/5-FCyt-GCV induces glioma cell killing greater than that induced by either CD/5-FCyt or HSVTK/GCV alone. IFN-alpha synergistically enhances this effect by increasing apoptosis.