We investigated regional therapy of recurrent malignant brain tumors with transferrin-CRM107, a conjugate of human transferrin (Tf) and a genetic mutant of diphtheria toxin (CRM107) that lacks native toxin binding. Physiological barriers to delivering proteins to tumor and surrounding infiltrated brain were circumvented with high-flow interstitial microinfusion. At least a 50% reduction in tumor volume on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) occurred in 9 of 15 patients who could be evaluated (60%), including two complete responses. Peritumoral toxicity developed 1-4 weeks after treatment in three of three patients at 1.0 microg/ml, but in zero of nine patients treated at lower concentrations. No symptomatic systemic toxicity occurred. Regional perfusion with Tf-CRM107 produces tumor responses without systemic toxicity in patients with malignant brain tumors refractory to conventional therapy. Direct interstitial infusion can be used successfully to distribute a large protein in the tumor and infiltrated brain surrounding the tumor.