Development of a physiologically relevant 3D model system for cancer research and drug development is a current challenge. We have adopted a 3D culture system based on a transglutaminase-crosslinked gelatin gel (Col-Tgel) to mimic the tumor 3D microenvironment. The system has several unique advantages over other alternatives including presenting cell-matrix interaction sites from collagen-derived peptides, geometry-initiated multicellular tumor spheroids, and metabolic gradients in the tumor microenvironment. Also it provides a controllable wide spectrum of gel stiffness for mechanical signals, and technical compatibility with imaging based screening due to its transparent properties. In addition, the Col-Tgel provides a cure-in-situ delivery vehicle for tumor xenograft formation in animals enhancing tumor cell uptake rate. Overall, this distinctive 3D system could offer a platform to more accurately mimic in vivo situations to study tumor formation and progression both in vitro and in vivo.