The INK4a-ARF locus encodes 2 separate proteins through differential splicing of alternative first exons to produce p16INK4a (exon 1alpha) and p14ARF (exon 1beta) products in human cells. The p16INK4a protein inhibits the cyclin D-dependent kinases (CDK) that control the phosphorylation of the Rb protein and cell proliferation. The p14ARF gene product can complex with and sequester the MDM2 protein within the nucleus, thus modulating the activity of the p53 protein. Loss of p16INK4a expression would disrupt the retinoblastoma (Rb)/p16INK4a/cyclin D-dependent kinase (CDK4) pathway, whereas loss of p14ARF expression would inactivate both the Rb and p53/ MDM2/p14ARF pathways through MDM2, which can complex with either Rb or p53. Loss of the p16INK4a gene on 9p21 has been documented in a wide range of human tumors, including one third of glioblastomas. However, in tumors showing homozygous loss of exon 2 of the p16INK4a gene, loss of exon 1beta of the p14ARF gene has not been established. In this study, we have assessed deletion of the p14ARF gene in 29 pediatric and 107 adult high-grade astrocytomas and 9 glioma cell lines, using multiplex PCR analysis for exon 1beta. We found homozygous deletions for exon 1alpha and exon 1beta in 3 of 29 (10%) of the pediatric cases (2 grade III, 1 grade IV), 25 of 107 (23%) of the adult cases (6 grade III and 19 grade IV), and 8 of 9 (89%) of the glioma cell lines. Therefore, loss of the INK4a-ARF locus in high-grade astrocytomas may contribute to the highly malignant behavior and treatment resistance of these tumors through elimination of multiple checkpoint cell cycle control proteins.