Despite the high incidence of EGFR amplification in patient glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tissues, only a single GBM cell line, of the many described in the literature, is known to contain and maintain amplified EGFR. Because EGFR mutations in GBM manifest primarily, if not exclusively, in amplified form, it follows that the availability of cell lines with mutation of endogenous EGFR would also be in short supply. In fact, there are no GBM cell lines harboring the common EGFR mutants described in patient GBMs. These observations suggest that in vivo environments select for EGFR amplification, whereas in vitro environments, specifically cell cultures, select against this gene alteration. To contrast directly the fates of EGFR amplification in vivo and in vitro, as well as to examine potential relationships between EGFR amplification and mutation, we have established and maintained GBM explants as xenografts by serial passaging in nude mice. Analysis of EGFR copy number and EGFR mutation status in 11 patient tumors and their corresponding xenografts, as well as the monitoring of EGFR copy number during the establishment of a GBM cell line from a xenograft with amplified EGFR, indicated that selection for EGFR amplification is an in vivo phenomenon. Furthermore, our data indicated that EGFR mutation occurs only in tumors with EGFR amplification and showed that the selection of amplified mutant EGFR over amplified wild-type EGFR as a xenograft occurred rapidly and completely during tumor propagation. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.