Gliomas are the most common primary malignant brain tumours and are classified into four clinical grades, with the most aggressive tumours being grade 4 astrocytomas (also known as glioblastoma multiforme; GBM). Frequent genetic alterations in GBMs (refs 2-5) result in stimulation of common signal transduction pathways involving Ras, Akt and other proteins. It is not known which of these pathways, if any, are sufficient to induce GBM formation. Here we transfer, in a tissue-specific manner, genes encoding activated forms of Ras and Akt to astrocytes and neural progenitors in mice. We found that although neither activated Ras nor Akt alone is sufficient to induce GBM formation, the combination of activated Ras and Akt induces high-grade gliomas with the histological features of human GBMs. These tumours appear to arise after gene transfer to neural progenitors, but not after transfer to differentiated astrocytes. Increased activity of RAS is found in many human GBMs (ref. 11), and we show here that Akt activity is increased in most of these tumours, implying that combined activation of these two pathways accurately models the biology of this disease.