We have examined the impact of methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) on survival of F344 rats that were bearing avian sarcoma virus (ASV)-induced gliomas and that were treated optimally with radiotherapy. Toxicity of MPA (dose range of 0.2-5.0 mg/kg × 7 over 3 weeks) was first established in non-tumor bearing rats as assessed by their relative failure to gain weight. Doses of 2.0 or 5.0 mg/kg x 7 caused animals to be 21.8 or 43.9%, respectively, underweight compared with vehicle controls. In rats bearing ASV induced gliomas, treatment with 3 000 cGY (nine fractions over a 3-week period) alone or with 0.2 or 1.0 mg MPA/kg (× 6 during the 3-week radiotherapy course) produced a significantly prolonged survival compared with that of untreated, tumor bearing rats. However, MPA did not enhance survival when given concurrently with radiotherapy; indeed, at the higher of these two doses, median survival of tumor-bearers was slightly less than with radiotherapy alone. This trend towards interference with the beneficial effects of radiotherapy was more pronounced with the highest dose of MPA studied, 5.0 mg/kg body weight × 6. These animals had a median survival time that was significantly less than that of tumor-bearers receiving radiotherapy alone, but not significantly different from untreated rats with gliomas. The possible significance of these observations is discussed. © 1987 Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.