Glioblastoma multiforme is a clinically and histologically heterogeneous lesion; however, to date, it has not been possible to subdivide glioblastomas on a clinical, histopathological or biological basis. Previous studies have demonstrated that loss of portions of chromosomes 10 and 17 and amplification of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene are the most frequent genetic alterations in glioblastoma. We therefore examined 74 glioblastomas from 67 patients for loss of heterozygosity on chromosomes 10 and 17, and for amplification of the epidermal growth factor receptor gene, to determine whether glioblastomas can be subtyped on a genetic basis. Using Southern blot analysis we were able to detect different patterns of genomic alterations. Eighteen of 67 informative patients were characterized by a loss of heterozygosity on the short arm of chromosome 17 in the tumor tissue. Forty-five of 64 informative patients showed a loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 10. Amplification of the epidermal growth factor receptor gene was noted in 25 of 67 patients and was restricted to those glioblastomas that had lost portions of chromosome 10. Epidermal growth factor receptor gene amplification occurred significantly more often in patients without chromosome 17p loss than in patients with chromosome 17p loss (p = 0.01). In addition, those glioblastomas with a loss of chromosome 17p occurred in patients significantly younger than those with glioblastomas characterized by EGFR gene amplification (p = 0.001). These data emphasize the genetic heterogeneity of glioblastoma and suggest the division of glioblastoma into genetic subsets.