© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Despite the advances in imaging, surgery and radiotherapy, the majority of patients with brainstem gliomas die within 2 years after initial diagnosis. Factors that contribute to the dismal prognosis of these patients include the infiltrative nature and anatomic location in an eloquent area of the brain, which prevents total surgical resection and the presence of the blood–brain barrier (BBB), which reduces the distribution of systemically administered agents. The development of new therapeutic approaches which can circumvent the BBB is a potential path to improve outcomes for these children. Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) and intranasal delivery (IND) are strategies that permit direct drug delivery into the central nervous system and are an alternative to intravenous injection (IV). We treated rats bearing human brainstem tumor xenografts with nanoliposomal irinotecan (CPT-11) using CED, IND, and IV. A single treatment of CED irinotecan had a similar effect on overall survival as multiple treatments by IV route. IND CPT-11 showed significantly increased survival of animals with brainstem tumors, and demonstrated the promise of this non-invasive approach of drug delivery bypassing the BBB when combined with nanoliposomal chemotherapy. Our results indicated that using CED and IND of nanoliposomal therapy increase likelihood of practical therapeutic approach for the treatment of brainstem gliomas.