The authors describe the incidence and survival of 480 patients diagnosed under 30 years with a CNS tumor in Yorkshire, UK, between 1990 and 2001. The effect on survival from deprivation and other prognostic factors was examined. Young adults (aged 15-29) were significantly less likely to develop CNS tumors than children (p = .001), largely because of an excess of medulloblastoma and ependymoma in the pediatric age range. No significant temporal trends in incidence were present apart from young adults with "other CNS" tumors showing an average annual increase of 10.7% (95% CI 1.3-21.0%; p = .03). Young adults had significantly lower survival rates than children (hazard ratio = 1.52, 95% CI 1.10-2.10). The highest risk of death was observed for patients from the most affluent areas. The overall burden of CNS tumors appears to be relatively constant, but the significantly poorer survival for young people needs further rapid investigation.