Elevated levels of serum ferritin (SF) are observed in several types of cancer; however, little is known on the association between ferritin and glioma, the most frequent type of human primary brain tumour. Here we report that GBM patients show significantly increased pre-surgical SF levels (i.e. ferritinaemia) within the SF reference range and a marked ferritin immunoreactivity of resected tumour tissue. Our findings account for an indirect association between ferritin synthesis in glioma-tissue and altered SF levels, which limits the clinical value of SF as a tumour marker in glioma. Importantly, we show for the first time that GBM-derived glioma cells release ferritin in vitro, which exerts an apoptosis-stimulating activity. Albeit the pathophysiologic context of apoptosis induction by a tumour-derived ferritin remains to be defined, our findings account for a distinct growth-regulatory role of these ferritin species in tumour biology.