Glioblastoma is the most common type of primary brain tumor and is rapidly progressive with few treatment options. Here, we report that sorafenib (< or =10 micromol/L) inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in two established cell lines (U87 and U251) and two primary cultures (PBT015 and PBT022) from human glioblastomas. The effects of sorafenib on these tumor cells were associated with inhibiting phosphorylated signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3; Tyr705). Expression of a constitutively activated STAT3 mutant partially blocked the effects of sorafenib, consistent with a role for STAT3 inhibition in the response to sorafenib. Phosphorylated Janus-activated kinase (JAK)1 was inhibited in U87 and U251 cells, whereas phosphorylated JAK2 was inhibited in primary cultures. Sodium vanadate, a general inhibitor of protein tyrosine phosphatases, blocked the inhibition of phosphorylation of STAT3 (Tyr705) induced by sorafenib. These data indicate that the inhibition of STAT3 activity by sorafenib involves both the inhibition of upstream kinases (JAK1 and JAK2) of STAT3 and increased phosphatase activity. Phosphorylation of AKT was also reduced by sorafenib. In contrast, mitogen-activated protein kinases were not consistently inhibited by sorafenib in these cells. Two key cyclins (D and E) and the antiapoptotic protein Mcl-1 were downregulated by sorafenib in both cell lines and primary cultures. Our data suggest that inhibition of STAT3 signaling by sorafenib contributes to growth arrest and induction of apoptosis in glioblastoma cells. These findings provide a rationale for potential treatment of malignant gliomas with sorafenib. Mol Cancer Ther; 9(4); 953-62. (c)2010 AACR.