The presence of the progesterone receptor (PR) in meningioma tissue has been confirmed by previous investigations. Studies have shown that the antiprogesterone drug, mifepristone, is a potent agent that inhibits the growth of cultured meningioma cells and reduces the size of meningiomas in experimental animal models and humans. However, these studies have not fully examined the relationship between the antitumor effects of an antiprogesterone agent and the expression of the PR. The present study examined the antitumor effects of mifepristone and a new potent antiprogesterone agent, onapristone; a correlation between the antitumor effects of these antiprogesterones and the presence of PR's in meningiomas in vitro and in vivo was also investigated. Meningioma tissue surgically removed from 13 patients was used in this study. In the in vitro arm of the study, mifepristone and onapristone exhibited cytostatic and cytocidal effects against cultured meningioma cells, regardless of the presence or absence of PR's; however, three PR-negative meningiomas showed no response to any dose of mifeprestone and/or onapristone. In the in vivo arm, meningioma cells, embedded in a collagen gel, were implanted into the renal capsules of nude mice. Antiprogesterone treatment resulted in a marked reduction of the tumor volume regardless of the presence or absence of PR's. No histological changes in the meningioma cells suggestive of necrosis or apoptosis were detected in any of the mice treated with antiprogesterones. These findings suggest that mifepristone and onapristone have an antitumor effect against meningioma cells via the PR's and/or another receptor, such as the glucocorticoid receptor.