The genetic abnormality most frequently identified in glioblastomas is loss of alleles on chromosome 10. We have performed a comprehensive study of the PTEN tumor suppressor gene on 10q23, including loss of heterozygosity (LOH) analysis, multiplex PCR, mutation analysis, and reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR). In total, 151 glioblastomas, 41 anaplastic astrocytomas, 15 astrocytomas, and 13 glioma cell lines were analyzed as well as 23 xenografts derived from primary glioblastomas, which allows a comparison of the PTEN gene status in primary tumors versus xenografts. Homozygous deletions were found in 7% of the glioblastomas and 40% showed mutation of a single retained allele. This mutation frequency is higher than reported previously. The large number of mutations identified allows the presentation of a mutational profile along the coding sequence. The majority of mutations appear to affect conserved residues or structurally conserved regions. PTEN alterations were selected for in xenografts, and there is evidence that they may even facilitate establishment of xenografts. No alterations were found in astrocytomas and only 5% of anaplastic astrocytomas had mutations. Thus, loss of wild type PTEN represents one of the major abnormalities associated with astrocytic tumor progression to glioblastoma and provides a strong selective growth advantage when cultivating glioblastoma tissue in xenografts. No correlation with EGFR amplification was evident.