Both melanocytes and glial cells are derived embryologically from the neural ectoderm. Their malignant transformed counterparts, melanoma and glioma cells, respectively, may share common antigens. Numerous tumor-associated antigens have been identified in melanomas but only a few a gliomas. Using an established reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction plus Southern blot assay, we compared the mRNA expression of melanoma-associated antigens (MAAs) of melanomas to brain tumors primarily derived from glial cells. The MAAs studied included tyrosinase (Tyr), tyrosinase-related protein-1 and -2 (TRP-1 and TRP-2), gp100, human melanoma antigen-encoding genes 1 and 3 (MAGE-1 and MAGE-3), and melanotransferrin (p97). Glioblastoma multiforme (n = 21), anaplastic astrocytoma (n = 3), ependymoma (n = 2), meningioma (n = 3), oligodendroglioma (n = 1), and melanoma (n = 12) tumor specimens were assayed for MAA mRNA expression. Glioblastoma multiforme, astrocytoma, and melanoma cell lines were also assayed. We observed that individual MAA mRNAs were expressed in these brain tumors and cell lines at varying frequencies. The melanogenesis-pathway-related MAAs Tyr, TRP-1, TRP-2, and gp100 mRNAs were also expressed at different levels in normal brain tissues but at a much lower frequency than in glioblastoma multiforme and melanoma. MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 mRNA were expressed in different types of tumor specimens and cell lines but never in normal brain tissue. Tumor antigen p97 was expressed in all types of tumors and also in normal brain tissues. These studies demonstrate that melanomas and primary brain tumors express common MAAs and could be exploited in patients with malignant glioma by active specific immunotherapy against these common MAAs.