We investigated the effect of the peroxisomal proliferator (PP) perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), alone or in combination with 9-cis-retinoic acid (RX) on the human glioblastoma cell line Lipari (LI). Cell proliferation, apoptotic rate, peroxisome morphology and morphometry, peroxisomal enzyme activities and the presence of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) were examined. We show that PFDA alone produces pleiotropic effects on LI cells and that RX enhances some of these effects. Peroxisomal number and relative volume, as well as palmitoyl-CoA oxidase activity and protein, are increased by PFDA treatment, with a synergistic effect by RX. The latter, alone or in association with PFDA, induces catalase activity and protein, increases apoptosis and decreases cell proliferation. PPAR isotypes alpha and gamma were detected in LI cells. While the former is apparently unaffected by either treatment, the latter increases in response to PFDA, independent of the presence of RX. The results of this study are discussed in terms of PPARalpha activation and PPARgamma induction by PFDA, by either a direct or an indirect mechanism.