In humans, the targeting protein for Xenopus kinesin-like protein 2 (TPX2) is a cell cycle-associated protein, and altered TPX2 expression has been found in various malignancies. However, the contribution of TPX2 expression to astrocytoma progression is unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate TPX2 expression in human astrocytoma samples and cell lines. TPX2 protein expression was detected in the nucleus of astrocytoma tissues by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence staining. Real-time PCR and Western blot analysis showed that the expression levels of TPX2 were higher in high-grade astrocytoma tissues and cell lines than that in low-grade astrocytoma tissues and normal cell lines. Immunohistochemical analysis of tumor tissues from 52 patients with astrocytoma showed that TPX2 over-expression was significantly associated with decreased patient survival. In addition, down-regulation of the TPX2 gene by RNA interference inhibited proliferation of U87 cells. TPX2 gene silencing also increased early-stage apoptosis in U87 cells. Western blotting and real-time PCR showed changes in the protein and mRNA expression of Aurora A, Ran, p53, c-Myc and cyclin B1 in U87 cells that had been transfected with pSUPER/TPX2/siRNA. These data suggest that TPX2 expression is associated with the progression of malignant astrocytoma.