Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly malignant glioma, which has the propensity to infiltrate throughout the brain in contrast to pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) of the posterior fossa, which does not spread and can be cured by surgery. We have used Suppression Subtractive Hybridization to define markers that better delineate the molecular basis of brain invasion and distinguish these tumor groups. We have identified 106 genes expressed in PA versus GBM and 80 genes expressed in GBM versus PA. Subsequent analysis identified a subset of 20 transcripts showing a common differential expression pattern for the two groups. GBM differs from PA by the expression of five genes involved in invasion and angiogenesis: fibronectin, osteopontin, chitinase-3-like-1 (YKL-40), keratoepithelin and fibromodulin. PA differs from GBM by the expression of genes related to metabolism (apolipoprotein D), proteolysis (protease-serine-11), receptor and signal transduction (PLEKHB1 for Pleckstrin-Homology-domain-containing-protein-family-B-member-1), transcription/translation (eukaryotic-translation-elongation-factor-1-alpha1) processes and cell adhesion (SPOCK1 for SPARC/Osteonectin-CWCV-kazal-like-domains-proteoglycan). The expression of these genes was confirmed by real-time quantitative RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. This study highlights the crucial role of brain invasion in GBM and identifies specific molecules involved in this process. In addition, it offers a restricted list of markers that accurately distinguish PA from GBM.