A promising new treatment for glioma involves Auger electron emitters such as 125I or 123I conjugated to deoxyuridine (IUdR). However, the presence in tumour deposits of non-proliferating cells with clonogenic potential poses a major limitation to this cycle-specific therapy. We have used multicellular tumour spheroids derived from the human glioma cell line UVW to study [125I]IUdR-targeted radiotherapy in aggregates containing cells in different proliferative states. Autoradiographic identification of labelled cells indicated that nuclear incorporation of [125I]IUdR decreased markedly with increasing size of spheroid. IUdR incorporation was maximal in the surface layer of cells and decreased with depth within spheroids. Radiopharmaceutical uptake corresponded closely to the regions of cell cycling as indicated by staining for the nuclear antigen Ki67. The uptake of drug was enhanced by increasing the duration of incubation from 52 h to 104 h. These observations suggest that significant sparing of non-cycling malignant cells would result from treatment delivered as a single injection of radiolabelled IUdR. To achieve maximal therapeutic effect. IUdR should be administered by multiple injections, by slow release from biodegradable implants or by slow-pump delivery.