Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and malignant central nervous system tumor in humans, is highly proliferative and resistant to apoptosis. Stat3, a latent transcription factor being activated by aberrant cytokine or growth factor signaling, acts as a suppressor of apoptosis in a number of cancer cells. Here we report that GBM tumors and cell lines contain high levels of constitutively activated Stat3 when compared with normal human astrocytes, white matter, and normal tissue adjacent to tumor. The persistent activation of Stat3 is in part, attributable to an autocrine action of interleukin-6 in the GBM cell line U251. Janus kinase inhibitor AG490 inhibits Stat3 activation with a concomitant reduction in steady-state levels of Bcl-X(L), Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 proteins and induces apoptosis in U251 cells as revealed by Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and Annexin-V staining. Expression of a dominant negative mutant Stat3 protein or treatment with AG490 markedly reduces the proliferation of U251 cells by inhibiting the constitutive activation of Stat3. These results provide evidence that constitutive activation of Stat3 contributes to the pathogenesis of glioblastoma by promoting both proliferation and survival of GBM cells. Therefore, targeting Stat3 signaling may provide a potential therapeutic intervention for GBM.