Because of its unpredictable clinical course, treatment strategies for low-grade (grade II) astrocytoma vary from "wait and see" to gross tumour resection followed by immediate radiotherapy. Clinical studies on grade II astrocytoma show that 5-year-survival ranges from 27% to 85% of patients with very few consistent prognostic variables besides the patient's age and the presence of neurological deficit. There is no universally recognised choice of therapy for patients with astrocytoma grade II, partly because of the shortcomings of histological classification systems. Routine microscopy tends to underestimate malignancy grading of astrocytomas and in most cases cannot distinguish between indolent and progressive subtypes. Recent studies suggest that proliferation and genetic markers can be used to identify subgroups of astrocytoma grade II with a rapid progressive clinical course. Therefore these markers should be included in ongoing and future clinical studies of patients with astrocytoma grade II.