Thirty-eight patients with primary recurrent anaplastic gliomas and glioblastomas, were treated with 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) and the polyamine inhibitor alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO). There were 5 brain stem, 1 cerebellar, and 32 supratentorial glioma tumors. All had been treated with surgery (except in the case of 4 brain stem tumors for which biopsies were not obtained) and radiotherapy. Eight patients had received prior chemotherapy. Of the 21 patients with evaluable supratentorial anaplastic gliomas, 2 (9.5%) had a partial response and 10 (47.6%) had stable disease. The median time to tumor progression for the anaplastic gliomas has not been attained yet. However, median survival for these 12 patients was 119 weeks measured from the initiation of chemotherapy. Median survival for the entire anaplastic glioma group of 21 was 56 weeks. Minimal activity was seen against glioblastoma multiforme. The median time to tumor progression was 8 weeks with median survival of 21 weeks. Of the 5 patients with brain stem tumors, 3 are alive with stable disease at 77, 93, and 220 weeks. The combination was well tolerated with dose-limiting toxicity being myelosuppression and hearing loss. Further trials are warranted to compare the combination of BCNU and DFMO against BCNU alone in a prospective randomized trial.