Hospital-based data reported to the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) were available for over 60,000 patients with a primary brain tumor diagnosed from 1985-1988 and 1990-1992. The most common histologies were glioblastomas, astrocytomas and meningiomas. Five-year survival rates for these tumors were 2%, 30% and 70% respectively. Histology, age at diagnosis, behavior, and location were important variables in estimating survival. Comparisons with population-based registry data suggest that the malignant tumors are well represented in NCDB, but the benign histologies are under-reported. Survival estimates for the malignant tumors are comparable to previously reported studies. The NCDB provides recent information on brain tumor distribution and survival patterns not available in other large databases.