Glioblastomas may develop rapidly without clinical and histopathological evidence of a less malignant precursor lesion (de novo or primary glioblastoma) or through progression from low-grade or anaplastic astrocytoma (secondary glioblastoma). Primary glioblastomas typically show overexpression of EGFR, but rarely p53 mutations, while secondary glioblastomas frequently carry a p53 mutation, but usually lack overexpression of EGFR, suggesting that these glioblastoma subtypes develop through distinct genetic pathways. In the present study, we assessed the expression of Fas/APO-1 (CD95), an apoptosis-mediating cell membrane protein, and its relation to necrosis phenotype in primary and secondary glioblastomas. Large areas of ischemic necroses were observed in all 18 primary glioblastomas, but were significantly less frequent in secondary glioblastomas (10 of 19, 53%; p = 0.0004). Fas expression was predominantly observed in glioma cells surrounding large areas of necrosis and was thus significantly more frequent in primary glioblastomas (18 of 18, 100%) than in secondary glioblastomas (4 of 19, 21%; p < 0.0001), suggesting that these clinically and genetically defined subtypes of glioblastoma differ in the extent and mechanism of necrogenesis. Necrosis and microvascular proliferation are histologic hallmarks of the glioblastoma. Following incubation of glioblastoma cell lines under hypoxic/anoxic conditions for 24-48 hours, Fas mRNA levels remained unchanged, whereas VEGF expression was markedly upregulated. This suggests that in contrast to VEGF Fas expression is not induced by ischemia/hypoxia. Analysis of Fas mRNA levels in a glioblastoma cell line containing a p53 mutation and an inducible wild-type p53 gene showed little difference under induced and noninduced conditions, suggesting that in glioblastomas, Fas expression is not directly linked to the p53 status.