Patients undergoing brain tumor surgery are at high risk for the occurrence of a thromboembolic event. To identify a laboratory marker suitable for risk estimation the authors studied the perioperative time pattern of routine coagulation parameters and the specific hemostasis activation marker D-dimer in 28 consecutive patients at high risk (11 patients with glioma and eight patients with meningioma) and low risk (nine patients with metastases) for thromboembolism, as previously reported. As is typical during major surgery, most of the routine parameters declined, probably because of hemodilution, and recovered postoperatively to values higher than baseline, probably because of an acute-phase reaction. On Days 2 and 7 after surgery no difference in the routine parameters was recorded between patients at high (meningioma and glioma) and low risk (metastasis). The level of D-dimer was elevated at baseline in patients with metastasis, indicating a hemostatic hyperactivity that is usual in cancer patients. During surgery a marked increase in D-dimer levels occurred in patients with meningioma and glioma (pre- and postoperative median 90/2000 and 100/1020 ng/ml, respectively), but the increase was less pronounced in patients with metastasis (320/660 ng/ml). Postoperatively, D-dimer declined in patients with metastases to lower than preoperative levels (Day 7, 270 ng/ml); in patients with meningioma or glioma, however, D-dimer levels remained elevated until Day 7 (450 and 200 ng/ml, respectively). These results indicate that levels of D-dimer correlate with the reported high risk for thromboembolism in patients with meningioma and glioma, and D-dimer should be evaluated for its use in estimating individual risk and the efficiency of its use in the control of prophylactic treatment.