Six new permanent cell lines were established from human gliomas and compared to nine other cell lines from human gliomas. All fifteen lines had individually distinct HLA phenotypes and all but two, which were from a black patient, had type B glucose-6-phosphate-de;hydrogenase isoenzymes. Morphologically, the lines could be classified into four patterns descriptively designated as fibroblastic, fascicular, epithelial, or glial. Four of the lines grew progressively and could be serially transplanted when injected into athymic mice; two others grew initially and then regressed. From none to 100% of cells developed elongated tapering processes and showed reduction in nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio in the presence of 1 mM cyclic AMP and theophylline. Levels of 2'-3' cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphohydrolase activity ranged from nondetectable to 12.78 +/- 1.49 micromoles 2' AMP formed per hr mgm total protein. None of the lines had detectable S-100 protein, but two had readily demonstrable glial fibrillary acidic protein in indirect immunofluorescence. Fibronectin levels in spent culture supernatants ranged from undetectable levels to 21.4 micrograms/ml/10(5) cells. All but one line shared surface antigens with normal human adult or fetal brain, as detected in absorption analyses with nonhuman primate antiserum raised against glioblastoma multiforme tissue or cell line U-251 MG. Although there were many common properties of the lines, each line had a unique profile of the parameters evaluated. This heterogeneity most likely reflects the individuality of the tumors of origin and individual genotypes and capacity for a range of phenotypic expression of cells.