Glioblastoma multiforme represents a largely incurable tumor for which novel therapeutic strategies are required. We report the effect of NVP-AEW541, an inhibitor of insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-IR) kinase activity on growth and signaling in a panel of glioma cell lines. NVP-AEW541 blocked phosphorylation of IGF-IR in a dose- and time-dependent manner and inhibited proliferation and clonogenicity with median effective concentrations of 2.5-10 microM. NVP-AEW541 also induced loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and release of cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) from mitochondria. Because concentrations of NVP-AEW541 required to significantly inhibit glioma cell viability and downstream signaling also inhibited non-neoplastic astrocytes, we questioned whether differential efficacy could be enhanced by combination with inhibition of other tyrosine kinases dysregulated in gliomas. Dasatinib was selected as a combination agent based on its distinct inhibitory profile for other relevant signaling targets. Combined treatment with NVP-AEW541 and dasatinib induced significantly more apoptosis than either agent alone in glioma cells, but not non-neoplastic astrocytes, and synergistically inhibited clonogenic survival. Mechanistic studies indicated that combination of NVP-AEW541 and dasatinib significantly reduced pERK and pAkt and markedly increased AIF release, Bax oligomerization and loss of mitochondrial potential compared to each agent alone. Overexpression of Bcl-2 and Akt significantly attenuated NVP-AEW541 and dasatinib-induced Bax activation and cell death. Our data indicate that activation of Bax plays a critical role in mediating NVP-AEW541 and dasatinib-induced apoptosis, and suggest the potential value of combining IGFR inhibition with other classes of tyrosine kinase inhibitors to potentiate therapeutic efficacy.