Little is known about low-grade astrocytoma with neuraxis dissemination at diagnosis. A review of medical records identified this phenomenon in eight of 150 pediatric patients evaluated between 1985 and 1994 for histologically confirmed low-grade astrocytoma. These patients (five male and three female) ranged in age from 5 months to 20 years (median 8 years). Symptoms of neuraxis disease were minimal or absent. Primary tumor sites were the hypothalamus in four cases, brainstem/spinal cord in three, and temporal lobe in one. Patterns of dissemination (evaluated by computerized tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging techniques) appeared to be related to the primary site: hypothalamic tumors metastasized along the ventricular cerebrospinal fluid pathways, and tumors in other locations disseminated along subarachnoid pathways. Following initial treatment with chemotherapy (in three), partial resection (in one), radiation therapy (in three), and chemotherapy plus irradiation (in one), four patients required salvage therapy for progressive or recurrent disease. Seven of the eight patients are alive with stable or progressive disease 6 to 105 months postdiagnosis (median 15 months). Low-grade astrocytoma with initial neuraxis dissemination is responsive to chemotherapy and radiation, a proportion showing periods of stable disease. The optimum therapy or combination of therapies remains unclear.