Treatment with the nucleoside analog cytarabine has been shown to mimic changes in gene expression associated with downregulation of the EWS-FLI1 oncogene in Ewing sarcoma cell lines, selectively inhibit their growth in vitro, and cause tumor regression in athymic nude mice. For this report cytarabine was studied in vitro against a panel of 23 pediatric cancer cell lines and in vivo against 6 Ewing sarcoma xenografts. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines were the most sensitive to cytarabine in vitro (median IC(50) 9 nM), while Ewing sarcoma cell lines showed intermediate sensitivity (median IC(50) 232 nM). Cytarabine at a dose of 150 mg/kg administered daily 5× failed to significantly inhibit growth of five xenograft models, but reduced growth rate of the A673 xenograft by 50%. Cytarabine shows no differential in vitro activity against Ewing sarcoma cell lines and is ineffective in vivo against Ewing sarcoma xenografts at the dose and schedule studied.