Defects in the apoptotic signaling cascades contribute to the poor therapeutic response of malignant gliomas. As glioblastomas are characterized by high expression levels of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins, we studied the effects of the novel Bcl-2 inhibitor, ABT-737, on malignant glioma cells. ABT-737 treatment released the pro-apoptotic Bax protein from its binding partner Bcl-2 and potently induced apoptotic cell death in glioblastoma cells in vitro and in vivo. The local administration of ABT-737 prolonged the survival in an intracranial glioma xenograft model. Downregulation of Mcl-1 and overexpression of Bcl-2 sensitized the cells to ABT-737-mediated apoptosis. Moreover, ABT-737 potentiated the cytotoxicity of the chemotherapeutic drugs vincristine and etoposide, and of the death ligand TRAIL. As glioma stem cells may play a crucial role for the tumor progression and the resistance to treatment in glioblastomas, we investigated the effects of ABT-737 on the subpopulation of glioma cells exhibiting stem cell characteristics. Inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis by ABT-737 were less efficient in glioma stem cells than in non-stem cell-like glioma cells. As the resistance of glioma stem cells was associated with high Mcl-1 expression levels, ABT-737 treatment combined with downregulation of Mcl-1 could represent a promising novel approach in glioblastoma treatment.