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Despite surgical advances and recent progress in adjuvant therapies, the prognosis for patients with malignant brain tumors such as glioblastoma multiforme has remained poor, and the neurological deterioration suffered by most patients as a consequence of tumor progression is dramatic and severe. In addition, malignant brain tumors have > 95% recurrence close to the primary site of initial resection. Unfortunately, standard imaging techniques do not permit the intraoperative identification of individual or small clusters of residual tumor cells, precluding their selective removal while sparing the surrounding normal brain tissue. In this report, we show that quantum dots (QDs) coupled to epidermal growth factor (EGF) or anti-EGF receptor (EGFR, Her1) specifically and sensitively label glial tumor cells in cell culture, glioma mouse models, and human brain-tumor biopsies. A clear demarcation between brain and tumor tissue at the macroscopic as well as the cellular level is provided by the fluorescence emission of the QDs.