Astrocytic gliomas are the most common primary brain tumours. Here we summarize the characteristic neuropathological features of the different types of astrocytic neoplasms according to the World Health Organization classification of tumours of the nervous system. In addition, we report on the present state of the art concerning the molecular genetics of these tumours. Over the past 20 years a number of recurrent chromosomal,genetic and epigenetic alterations have been found to be associated with the different histological types and malignancy grades of astrocytic tumours. However, we are still far from understanding the complex mechanisms that underly tumour initiation and progression in the individual case. Furthermore, the clinical significance of molecular parameters for the diagnostic and prognostic assessment of astrocytic gliomas is still limited. Therefore further investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying oncogenesis and progression of these most common brain tumours is necessary to improve their diagnostic assessment and to devise novel, individually tailored treatment strategies.