In 75 gliomas and 31 meningiomas, mutations at the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene locus were restricted to gliomas. The ligands of this receptor, epidermal growth factor and transforming growth factor alpha, lacked quantitative changes at their loci in gliomas and meningiomas. EGFR gene amplification occurred in astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, ependymomas and glioblastomas. The frequency of this mutation significantly increased with the malignancy grade and the patient's age. Especially in glioblastomas of individuals aged over 64 years, EGFR gene mutations were observed without chromosome-10-specific allele losses. This finding contradicts the hypothesis that deletion of one entire chromosome 10 regularly precedes EGFR gene amplification in primary glioblastomas of patients aged over 50 years. It was found that most individuals whose gliomas carry an EGFR gene mutation have a poor prognosis, comparable to that of glioblastoma patients even when the tumour is graded as benign.