Human salivary histatin-5 (Hsn-5) is a 24-residue peptide that possesses potent antifungal activity in vitro. The MUC7 gene encodes human salivary low-molecular-weight mucin (MG2). The candidacidal activity of MUC7 domain 1 (MUC7 D1, the N-terminal 51 amino acid residues of MUC7) in vitro has also been demonstrated. In this study, we have investigated the antifungal therapeutic potential of Hsn-5, its two variants, R12I/K17N and R12I/H21L, and MUC7 D1. First, these peptides were tested for activities against different clinically important fungi. We found them to possess broad-spectrum antifungal activities; specifically, most exhibited excellent in vitro activity against eight clinically important fungal strains tested, including Candida albicans and Candida glabrata and their azole-resistant counterparts and Cryptococcus neoformans and its amphotericin B-resistant counterpart. These findings also suggest that the mechanism of action of both Hsn-5 and MUC7 D1 for these fungi is different from that of amphotericin B or azole antifungal agents. Second, we examined the stability of these peptides in whole human saliva and human serum. In saliva, the Hsn-5 variants R12I/K17N and R12I/H21L and MUC7 D1 degraded at a lower rate than Hsn-5. In human serum, MUC7 D1 was also more stable than Hsn-5; both peptides were more stable in serum than in saliva. Third, we examined the cytotoxicity of these peptides using human erythrocytes and two human cell lines (KB and HSG). No (or very low) hemolytic activity was observed with any of the four peptides, even at the highest protein concentration tested (200 microM), while amphotericin B caused 100% hemolysis at only 12.5 microM. The toxic effects of Hsn-5 and MUC7 D1 toward KB and HSG cells were also much lower than that of amphotericin B as measured by trypan blue exclusion. Together, these findings indicate that the investigated peptides possess high antifungal therapeutic potential, in particular for the treatment of drug-resistant fungal strains associated with immunocompromised (particularly human immunodeficiency virus-infected) patients. The same peptides could also be used as components of artificial saliva for patients with salivary dysfunction.