Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has significant therapeutic potentials, in particular for neurodegenerative disorders. To determine factors that would enhance GDNF expression, we analysed the effect of 1,25-(OH)2 D3 in C6 glioma cells. Treatment of C6 cells with 10(-7) M, 1,25-(OH)2 D3 for 48 h elicited an 18.5-fold increase in the level of GDNF mRNA. In addition, our results indicate that 1,25-(OH)2 D3 is effective at concentrations as low as 10(-10) M and that retinoic acid has additive effects. These data indicate that 1,25-(OH)2 D3 is a potent inducer of GDNF expression and suggest that 1,25-(OH)2 D3 may contribute to the regulation of GDNF in vivo.