BACKGROUND: We sought to estimate the maximum tolerated or recommended phase 2 dose and describe the pharmacokinetics and toxicities of enzastaurin, an oral inhibitor of protein kinase Cbeta, in children with recurrent central nervous system malignancies. METHODS: Enzastaurin was administered continuously once daily at 3 dose levels (260, 340, and 440 mg/m(2)) and twice daily at 440 mg/m(2)/day. Plasma pharmacokinetics were evaluated following a single dose and at steady state. Inhibition of protein kinase C and Akt cell signaling in peripheral blood mononuclear cells was evaluated. Akt pathway activity was measured in pretreatment tumor samples. RESULTS: Thirty-three patients enrolled; 1 was ineligible, and 3 were nonevaluable secondary to early progressive disease. There were no dose-limiting toxicities during the dose-finding phase. Two participants receiving 440 mg/m(2) given twice daily experienced dose-limiting toxicities of grade 3 thrombocytopenia resulting in delayed start of course 2 and grade 3 alanine transaminase elevation that did not recover within 5 days. There were no grade 4 toxicities during treatment. The concentration of enzastaurin increased with increasing dose and with continuous dosing; however, there was not a significant difference at the 440 mg/m(2) dosing level when enzastaurin was administered once daily versus twice daily. There were no objective responses; however, 11 participants had stable disease >3 cycles, 7 with glioma, 2 with ependymoma, and 2 with brainstem glioma. CONCLUSION: Enzastaurin was well tolerated in children with recurrent CNS malignancies, with chromaturia, fatigue, anemia, thrombocytopenia, and nausea being the most common toxicities. The recommended phase 2 dose is 440 mg/m(2)/day administered once daily.