Bag-1 is a heat shock 70 kDa (Hsp70)-binding protein that can collaborate with Bcl-2 in suppressing apoptosis under some conditions. Here, we report that 11 of 12 human glioma cell lines express Bag-1 protein in vitro. Moreover, 15 of 19 human glioblastomas expressed Bag-1 as assessed by immunohistochemistry in primary tumor specimens. To examine the biological effects of Bag-1 in glioma cells, we expressed Bag-1 or Bcl-2 transgenes in 2 human malignant glioma cell lines, LN-18 and LN-229. Bag-1 significantly slowed glioma cell growth and reduced clonogenicity of both cell lines in vitro. Coexpressed Bcl-2 abrogated these effects of Bag-1. Intracranial LN-229 glioma xenografts implanted into nude mice revealed a substantial growth advantage afforded by Bcl-2. Bag-1 had no such effect, either in the absence or presence of Bcl-2. Upon serum starvation in vitro, Bcl-2 prevented cell death whereas Bag-1 did not. Both Bcl-2 and Bag-1 slowed proliferation of serum-starved cells when expressed alone. Importantly, coexpression of Bcl-2 and Bag-1 provided a distinct growth advantage under conditions of serum starvation that is probably the result of (i) the death-preventing activity of Bcl-2 and (ii) the property of Bag-1 to overcome a Bcl-2-mediated enhancement of exit from the cell cycle. In contrast to these Bcl-2/Bag-1 interactions observed under serum starvation conditions, Bag-1 did not further enhance the strong protection from staurosporine-, CD95 (Fas/Apo1) ligand-, Apo2 ligand (TRAIL)- or chemotherapeutic drug-induced apoptosis afforded by Bcl-2. Taken together, these results indicate a role for Bag-1/Bcl-2 interactions in providing a survival advantage to cancer cells in a deprived microenvironment that may be characteristic of ischemic/hypoxic tumors such as human glioblastoma multiforme, and suggest that Bcl-2/Bag-1 interactions also modulate cell proliferation.