Bmi-1 and Mel-18 are close structural homologues that belong to the polycomb group (PcG) of transcriptional regulators of homeotic gene expression in development. They are believed to stably maintain repression of gene expression by altering the state of chromatin at specific promoters. A number of clinical and experimental observations have also implicated Bmi-1 in tumorigenesis and stem cell maintenance. Bmi-1 overexpression or amplification has been observed in a number of human malignancies, particularly in B-cell lymphomas, medulloblastomas and breast cancer. We report here that shRNA-mediated knock-down of either Bmi-1 or Mel-18 in human medulloblastoma DAOY cells results in the inhibition of proliferation, loss of clonogenic survival and anchorage-independent growth, and suppression of xenograft tumor formation in nude mice. Furthermore, overexpression of both Bmi-1 and Mel-18 significantly increased clonogenic survival of Rat1 fibroblasts. In contrast, stable downregulation of Bmi-1 or Mel-18 alone did not affect the growth of SK-OV-3 or U2OS cancer cell lines or normal human WI38 fibroblasts. Gene expression analysis of shRNA-expressing DAOY cells has demonstrated a significant overlap in the Bmi-1- and Mel-18-regulated genes and revealed novel gene targets under their control. Taken together, these results suggest that Bmi-1 and Mel-18 might have overlapping functions in human tumorigenesis.