We have investigated the antitumor effects and the mechanism of action of antagonists of bombesin/gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP), RC-3940-II and RC-3940-Et, on the growth of U-118MG human malignant glioma xenografted into nude mice. Tumors volume was measured weekly, and after 6 weeks of treatment with GRP antagonists the tumors were analyzed by Western blot assays for the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), protein kinase C (PKC)-alpha, the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and the pro-apoptotic protein Bax. A radioreceptor assay was used to characterize the receptors for bombesin/GRP. Specific high-affinity receptors for bombesin were found in U-118MG tumors, and their growth was reduced by 52.5% by RC-3940-II and 72.6% by RC-3940-Et (both p<0.01). The tumor doubling time was prolonged by 4.6 and 12 days after treatment with RC-3940-II and RC-3940-Et, respectively, compared to controls (p<0.05). Both antagonists caused a significant (p<0.05) decrease of about 28% in the levels of VEGF protein and a reduction of approximately 35% in the expression of PKCalpha. The relative ratio of Bcl-2:Bax was also diminished by around 70% by both analogs, indicating a net apoptotic gain and the efficacy of treatment. Our results suggest that bombesin/GRP antagonists, RC-3940-II and RC-3940-Et, could be of value for the treatment of human glioblastomas.