Primary and metastatic bone cancers are difficult to eradicate and novel approaches are needed to improve treatment and extend life. As bone cancer grows, osteoclasts, the principal bone-resorbing cells of the body, are recruited to and activated at sites of cancer. In this investigation, we determined if osteoclast lineage cells could function as a cell-based gene delivery system to bone cancers. We used the cytosine deaminase (CD) 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) enzyme/prodrug system and studied bone marrow and bones from transgenic mice expressing a novel CD gene regulated by the osteoclast tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) gene promoter (Tg/NCD). DsRed2-labeled 2472 sarcoma cells were placed in Tg/NCD osteoclastogenic cultures and treated with 5-FC. 5-FC treatment resulted in profound bystander killing (90%; P < 0.05). The effect of 5-FC treatment on osteoclast lineage cells was most dramatic when administered at the beginning of the 7-day cultures, suggesting that mature osteoclasts are less sensitive to 5-FC. Evaluation of osteoclast-directed bystander killing in vivo revealed dramatic killing of bone cancer with only a modest effect on osteoclast number. Specifically, 5-FC treatment of tumor-bearing Tg/NCD mice or Tg/NCD bone marrow transplanted C3H mice (Tg/NCD-C3H) resulted in 92% and 44% reductions in tumor area, respectively (P < 0.05). Eight often 5-FC-treated Tg/NCD mice had complete bone tumor killing and five of six 5-FC-treated Tg/NCD-C3H mice had reduced tumor compared with controls. In addition, Tg/NCD osteoclasts were resistant to 5-FC treatment in vivo, a very important feature, as it identifies osteoclasts as an ideal CD gene delivery system.