The human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) contributes to the immortal phenotype of the majority of cancers. Targeting hTERT by transfection with antisense oligonucleotides (AS-ODNs) induced immediate growth inhibition in human bladder cancer (BCa) cells. The molecular basis of the antiproliferative capacity of hTERT AS-ODNs was investigated by oligonucleotide microarray analyses and was compared to effects caused by siRNA-mediated knock-down of hTERT in EJ28 BCa cells. Two different AS-ODNs -- both down-regulated the expression of hTERT -- changed the expression of different genes mainly involved in stress response (including EGR1, ATF3 and GDF15), but without an association to telomerase function. This indicates that the immediate growth inhibition was caused, at least in part, by off-target effects. In comparison to that the blockade of the expression of hTERT using 2 different siRNAs was accompanied by the down-regulation of the oncogenes FOS-like antigen 1 (FOSL1) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), known to be overexpressed in BCa. We show here for the first time that repression of the hTERT transcript number decreased the expression of EGFR both at the mRNA and protein levels, suggesting a potential new function of hTERT in the regulation of EGFR-stimulated proliferation. Furthermore, the suppression of hTERT by siRNAs caused an enhancement of the antiproliferative capacity of the chemotherapeutics mitomycin C and cisplatin. The results presented herein may support the hypothesis that hTERT promotes the growth of tumor cells by mechanisms independent from telomere lengthening. The detailed clarification of these processes will shed light on the question, whether telomerase inhibitors might constitute suitable anticancer tools.