Glial tumours are the most common type of brain neoplasm in humans. Tumour classification and grading represent key factors for patient management. However, current grading schemes are still limited by subjective histological criteria. In this context, gliosis has been linked to increases in monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) activity. Thus, in the present study, MAO-B activity in membranes of glial tumours (n=20), meningiomas (n=12) and non-pathological human brains (n=15) was quantified by [14C]PEA oxidation. MAO-B activity was significantly greater in glioblastoma multiformes than in postmortem control brains (p<0.01) or meningiomas (p<0.001). There were no significant differences in MAO-B activity between glioblastoma multiformes (n=11) and low-grade astrocytomas (n=3) or anaplastic astrocytomas (n=6). In conclusion, the present results demonstrate a significant and selective increase in MAO-B activity in human gliomas when compared with meningiomas or non-tumoural tissue. These results suggest that the quantification of MAO-B activity may be a useful diagnostic tool for differentiating glial tumours from other types of brain tumours or surrounding normal brain tissue.