The expression of insulin-like growth factor I receptor (IGF-IR) antisense mRNA inhibits the growth of C6 rat glioblastoma cells both in vitro and in vivo [Cancer Res (1994) 54:2218]. Moreover, the injection of C6 cells expressing an antisense mRNA to the IGF-IR into syngeneic rats prevents subsequent wild-type tumorigenesis and induces regression of established tumors. For the study of immune function in syngeneic rats, C6 cells expressing either IGF-IR sense or IGF-IR antisense mRNA were injected and splenic lymphocyte function analyzed in vitro after 2 weeks. Cytotoxic, CD8+ lymphocytes from animals injected with IGF-IR antisense cells, but not from those treated with IGF-IR sense cells, proliferated in vitro in response to wild-type C6 cells. Wild-type C6 cells or IGF-IR-sense-RNA-expressing cells rapidly formed tumors upon subcutaneous injection into athymic nude mice. IGF-IR antisense cells were weakly tumorigenic, exhibiting a six- to tenfold increase in tumor latency. Injection of IGF-IR antisense C6 cells mildly delayed the development of wild-type tumors, and did not induce the regression of established wild-type C6 tumors in athymic nude mice. Thus, these findings demonstrate the stimulation of a cellular immune response in rats following the injection of IGF-IR antisense cells. However, studies of athymic nude mice indicate that expression of IGF-IR antisense mRNA also inhibits C6 cells tumorigenicity by additional mechanisms.