To establish the activity of sigma ligands at sigma1 and sigma2 receptor, we chose two tumour cell lines, the human SK-N-SH neuroblastoma and the rat C6 glioma lines, which express sigma2 receptors at a high density and sigma1 receptors in their high-affinity or low-affinity state. We tested the sigma2 receptor agonist PB28 and the sigma2 antagonist AC927, and (+)-pentazocine and NE100 as agonist and antagonist, respectively, at sigma1 receptors, with regard to antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects. In addition, 1,3-di(2-tolyl)guanidine (DTG) and haloperidol were tested as reference compounds displaying nearly equipotent sigma affinity (sigma2>sigma1 and sigma1>sigma2, respectively). In both SK-N-SH and C6 cells, PB28 and NE100 displayed the most potent results both in antiproliferative and cytotoxic assay while AC927 and (+)-pentazocine were inactive in both assays. The cytotoxic and antiproliferative effects of DTG and haloperidol reflected their sigma1 antagonist activity and sigma2 agonist activity. Moreover, our results in the tumour cell lines correlated well with those for sigma2 activity found previously in a functional assay in the guinea-pig bladder. These findings establish a new model for evaluating both sigma2 and sigma1 receptor activity of sigma ligands, which could be useful for developing new ligands having mixed sigma2 agonist/sigma1 antagonist activity as potential antineoplastic agents.