Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) is up-regulated in a variety of human neoplasms. Mutations in the core promoter region of the TERT gene, which increases promoter activity, have been reported in melanomas and a variety of human neoplasms, including gliomas. In the present study, we screened for TERT promoter mutations by direct DNA sequencing in a population-based collection of 358 glioblastomas. TERT promoter mutations (C228T, C250T) were detected in 55 % glioblastomas analysed. Of these, 73 % had a C228T mutation, and 27 % had a C250T mutation; only one glioblastoma had both C228T and C250T mutations. TERT promoter mutations were significantly more frequent in primary (IDH1 wild-type) glioblastomas (187/322; 58 %) than in secondary (IDH1 mutated) glioblastomas (10/36, 28 %; P = 0.0056). They showed significant inverse correlations with IDH1 mutations (P = 0.0056) and TP53 mutations (P = 0.043), and a significant positive correlation with EGFR amplification (P = 0.048). Glioblastoma patients with TERT mutations showed a shorter survival than those without TERT mutations in univariate analysis (median, 9.3 vs. 10.5 months; P = 0.015) and multivariate analysis after adjusting for age and gender (HR 1.38, 95 % CI 1.01-1.88, P = 0.041). However, TERT mutations had no significant impact on patients' survival in multivariate analysis after further adjusting for other genetic alterations, or when primary and secondary glioblastomas were separately analysed. These results suggest that the prognostic value of TERT mutations for poor survival is largely due to their inverse correlation with IDH1 mutations, which are a significant prognostic marker of better survival in patients with secondary glioblastomas.