Retaspimycin hydrochloride (IPI-504), an Hsp90 (heat shock protein 90) inhibitor, has shown activity in multiple preclinical cancer models, such as lung, breast and ovarian cancers. However, its biological effects in gliomas and normal brain derived cellular populations remain unknown. In this study, we profiled the expression pattern of Hsp90α/β mRNA in stable glioma cell lines, multiple glioma-derived primary cultures and human neural stem/progenitor cells. The effects of IPI-504 on cell proliferation, apoptosis, motility and expression of Hsp90 client proteins were evaluated in glioma cell lines. In vivo activity of IPI-504 was investigated in subcutaneous glioma xenografts. Our results showed Hsp90α and Hsp90β expression levels to be patient-specific, higher in high-grade glioma-derived primary cells than in low-grade glioma-derived primary cells, and strongly correlated with CD133 expression and differentiation status of cells. Hsp90 inhibition by IPI-504 induced apoptosis, blocked migration and invasion, and significantly decreased epidermal growth factor receptor levels, mitogen-activated protein kinase and/or Akt activities, and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor in glioma cell lines. In vivo study showed that IPI-504 could mildly attenuate tumor growth in immunocompromised mice. These findings suggest that targeting Hsp90 by IPI-504 has the potential to become an active therapeutic strategy in gliomas in a selective group of patients, but further research into combination therapies is still needed.