The tumor suppressor gene PTEN on chromosome 10q23.3 regulates the Akt signaling pathway and modulates cell growth and apoptosis. The PTEN gene is mutated in 20-40% of glioblastomas. In this study, we assessed whether loss of PTEN expression is also caused epigenetically. Methylation-specific PCR revealed that CpG islands of the PTEN promoter were methylated in 27 of 77 (35%) glioblastomas and in 4 of 11 (36%) glioblastoma cell lines. Only two glioblastomas showed loss of PTEN immunoreactivity in the entire biopsy; both had a missense PTEN mutation and LOH at the PTEN locus, but lacked PTEN methylation. In biopsy specimens with focal loss of PTEN expression, DNA samples extracted from microdissected foci showed PTEN methylation only in areas with loss of PTEN expression. These results suggest that PTEN methylation occurs frequently in glioblastomas and may be associated with focal loss of PTEN expression. However, the correlation between PTEN methylation, PTEN mutations, LOH at the PTEN locus, and loss of PTEN protein expression was inconsistent. Possible reasons for discrepancies between gene status and protein expression include differences in the biological effect of specific PTEN mutations and the possibility that the processed PTEN pseudogene on 9p21 is expressed in glioblastomas and co-reacts with the PTEN antibody.