A demarcated 6 x 5 cm right paravertebral tumor at the level of T6 in a 39-year-old male was removed surgically. Histologically, the tumor consisted of monomorphous benign-looking, low-cellular spindle cells embedded in desmoplastic stroma. Ten years later, the tumor recurred locally with metastasis to systemic organs, including the occipital skin. Malignancy was histologically evident by the increased cellularity, cellular atypia and mitotic activity. The patient died of respiratory failure at the age of 49. Retrospectively reviewed, the primary lesion was low-grade fibrosarcoma-like spindle cell tumor, with secondary transformation into a highly malignant form. The differential diagnoses included sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma, low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor. Immunohistochemically, the spindle cells in the primary and recurrent tumors consistently expressed epithelial membrane antigen, vimentin, type 4 collagen and laminin. The tumor cells in the present case showed a differentiation toward perineurial cells, which are normally positive for these immunohistochemical markers. Hence, the appropriate diagnostic term should be 'malignant perineurioma', a subtype of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor.