Mounting evidence suggests that lipoxygenase (LO)-catalyzed products may play a key role in the development and progression of human cancers. In this study, we analyzed the effects of a 5-LO inhibitor, which inhibits the conversion of arachidonic acid to leukotrienes, on cell proliferation and apoptosis in human malignant glioma cells, including 5-LO-expressing cells U-87MG, A172 and 5-LO non-expressing cell U373. Growth of U-87MG and A172 cells, but not that of U373 cells, was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by treatment with MK886. Similarly, specific 5-LO silencing by small interfering RNA reduced the growth of U-87MG and A172 cells. MK886 treatment reduced 5-LO activity independently of 5-LO-activating protein (FLAP) in human malignant glioma cells. MK886 treatment also induced cell apoptosis, measured by DNA fragmentation and nuclear condensation, in U-87MG and A172 cells but there were no signs in U373 cells. Moreover, this treatment reduced ERKs phosphorylation and anti-apoptotic molecule Bcl-2 expression, and increased Bax expression in U-87MG and A172 cells. In summary, our results show there is a link between the 5-LO expression status and the extent of MK886-inhibited cell proliferation and apoptosis. Taken together, this study suggest that 5-LO is a possible target for treating patients with gliomas, and 5-LO inhibition might be potent therapy for patients with 5-LO-expressing malignant gliomas.