Infiltration of the central nervous system by neoplastic cells in patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) leads to neurological dysfunction and eventually to death. The elucidation of the mechanisms underlying the aggressive nature of GBM aims at improving radio-, chemo- and gene therapy. This review is focused on the use of rat C6 glioma as an experimental model system for GBM and provides an overview of the experimental data published in the literature using this cell line in elucidating the mechanism of tumor growth, angiogenesis and invasion, and in the design and evaluation of anticancer therapies. Understanding the stages of malignant brain tumor progression requires a series of experimental approaches with a varying degree of complexity. Implantation of malignant cells into animal brain tissue closely resembles in vivo tumor growth and has the advantage over simplified models that inflammatory and vascular mechanisms are activated. However, the complexity of these models makes it difficult to identify the individual processes involved in sustained tumor growth, angiogenesis and invasion. In cell culture models, the effect of growth factors, extracellular matrix components, proteases and adhesion molecules can be investigated. The secretion of tumor-derived factors into the medium can also be analyzed when simplified models are used. This review is a compilation of experimental data focused on the characterization of tumor-related processes and on the evaluation of new therapies for the treatment of malignant glial neoplasms using rat C6 glioma as a model system.