Wnt inhibitory factor-1 (WIF-1) acts as a Wnt antagonist and tumor suppressor, but hypermethylation of WIF-1 gene promoter and low expression of WIF-1 activate Wnt signaling aberrantly and induce the development of several human tumors. By using RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry and methylation-specific PCR, we analyzed the expression and methylation of WIF-1 in 4 normal brain tissues, 35 freshly resected astrocytoma tissues and 4 glioblastoma-derived cell lines. Significant downregulation of WIF-1 mRNA and protein expression levels was observed in astrocytoma tissues compared with normal brain tissues. Significant association between WIF-1 downregulation and pathological grade of astrocytomas was found. WIF-1 gene aberrant methylation was observed in 19 of 35 (54.29%) tumor samples. The promoter methylation tumors showed low WIF-1 protein and mRNA expression, whereas the promoter unmethylation tumors displayed high protein and mRNA expression levels. Moreover, complete absence of WIF-1 mRNA expression was observed in four cell lines, whereas treatment with demethylating agent, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, restored WIF-1 expression. Our results suggested that the WIF-1 gene is frequently silenced in astrocytoma by aberrant promoter methylation. This may be an important mechanism in astrocytoma carcinogenesis.