The ability to noninvasively track the migration, engraftment, and proliferation of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) has significant clinical and research implications. The purpose of our study was to explore the macroscopic migratory capabilities of NPCs toward brain tumors after implantation into nude mice. We stably transfected C17.2 NPCs with the firefly luciferase gene (F-luc) and implanted cells into (1) the contralateral brain parenchyma (2 x 10(6) cells), (2) the ventricles (2 x 10(6) cells), (3) the vasculature (1 x 10(5) cells), or (4) the intraperitoneal cavity (5 x 10(6) cells) of mice bearing intracranial gliomas (Gli36). Using serial bioluminescence imaging, migration of parenchymally injected cells was observed across the corpus callosum, first detected at 1 week, with maximal density at the tumor site 2-3 weeks after implantation. Similar patterns were also observed with intraventricular injections; however, tumors were populated earlier, presumably because of the shorter distance to travel. Intravenous injections resulted in more modest tumoral NPC populations, whereas virtually no cells could be identified in tumors after intraperitoneal injection. These results confirm the migratory capability of NPCs over considerable distances and their preferential accumulation in brain tumors on CNS rather than peripheral injection.