In 39 patients who harbored previously untreated astrocytomas (21 patients), oligoastrocytomas (9 patients), or oligodendrogliomas (9 patients), computed tomographic (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings were correlated with stereotactic serial biopsy findings. The 39 patients were classified as having one of three types of tumor: type I (1 patient), which consisted only of circumscribed tumor tissue; type II (26 patients), which consisted of tumor tissue and isolated tumor cells; or type III (11 patients), which consisted of intact parenchyma infiltrated by isolated tumor cells. (In one patient, the biopsy sampling was inadequate for determining the type of tumor.) In high-grade lesions, tumor tissue was obtained from CT contrast-enhancing regions, and the area of enhancement accurately defined the tumor tissue volume. In low-grade lesions, tumor tissue was hypodense and indistinguishable from parenchyma infiltrated by isolated tumor cells on both CT and MRI. Isolated tumor cells usually extended as far as the prolongation of T2 on T2-weighted MRI of high-grade and low-grade tumors. CT and MRI detection of boundaries and stereotactic serial biopsies are necessary for the demarcation of glial neoplasms into tumor tissue and isolated tumor cell volumes as well as for the determination of the spatial extent of each component. This information is important for determining appropriate treatment.