Malignant brain tumors present a major therapeutic challenge because no selective or efficient treatment is available. Here, we demonstrate that intratumoral administration of human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells (HAMLET) prolongs survival in a human glioblastoma (GBM) xenograft model, by selective induction of tumor cell apoptosis. HAMLET is a protein-lipid complex that is formed from alpha-lactalbumin when the protein changes its tertiary conformation and binds oleic acid as a cofactor. HAMLET induces apoptosis in a wide range of tumor cells in vitro, but the therapeutic effect in vivo has not been examined. In this study, invasively growing human GBM tumors were established in nude rats (Han:rnu/rnu Rowett, n = 20) by transplantation of human GBM biopsy spheroids. After 7 days, HAMLET was administered by intracerebral convection-enhanced delivery for 24 h into the tumor area; and alpha-lactalbumin, the native, folded variant of the same protein, was used as a control. HAMLET reduced the intracranial tumor volume and delayed the onset of pressure symptoms in the tumor-bearing rats. After 8 weeks, all alpha-lactalbumin-treated rats had developed pressure symptoms, but the HAMLET-treated rats remained asymptomatic. Magnetic resonance imaging scans revealed large differences in tumor volume (456 versus 63 mm(3)). HAMLET caused apoptosis in vivo in the tumor but not in adjacent intact brain tissue or in nontransformed human astrocytes, and no toxic side effects were observed. The results identify HAMLET as a new candidate in cancer therapy and suggest that HAMLET should be additionally explored as a novel approach to controlling GBM progression.