Activation of the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling system has been implicated in the development and malignant progression of diffuse gliomas. Overexpression of PDGF system components, particularly the alpha subtype receptor (PDGFRA), is common in glial tumors, and PDGFRA gene amplification has been reported in glioblastomas. In order to address the incidence of PDGFRA gene amplification in a broad set of diffuse gliomas, we used Southern and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analyses to examine 167 astrocytic gliomas (20 grade III and 147 grade IV), 41 anaplastic oligodendrogliomas, and 29 anaplastic oligoastrocytomas. PDGFRA gene amplification was identified in 4 anaplastic oligodendrogliomas and in a single case of anaplastic oligoastrocytoma, but in none of the malignant astrocytomas. Each of the 5 tumors with PDGFRA amplification displayed features generally associated with grade IV malignancy in astrocytic tumors. Consequently, our data indicate that this gene alteration is restricted to tumors having oligodendroglial differentiation and highly anaplastic features.