Astrocytic brain tumours, particularly malignant astrocytomas, are recognized to be highly vascular neoplasms with potent angiogenic activity. Recent research has shown that quantification of microvessel density (MVD), as a measure of the degree of angiogenesis, constitutes a strong prognostic indicator in patients with astrocytomas. However, the significance of other morphometric aspects of microvessel network has not been tested so far. In this report, histological sections from 70 astrocytomas (grades II to IV), immunostained for CD34, were evaluated by image analysis for the quantification of MVD, total vascular area (TVA), and microvascular branching, as well as several morphometric parameters related to vessel size or shape. Minor axis length increased with grade (P = 0.045) but MVD and TVA presented a peak in grade III (P = 0.033 and P < 0.001, respectively). Size and shape related parameters affected survival in univariate analysis of grade IV and grades II/III, respectively. In multivariate analysis, only branching counts, along with age and grade, were the independent predictors of survival. Although MVD, TVA and branching counts were adversely related to disease-free survival in grades II and III (univariate analysis), only TVA remained statistically significant in multivariate analysis. It is concluded that TVA and branching counts are prognostically more informative than MVD for patients with diffuse astrocytic tumours.