Meningiomas are mostly benign tumors that originate from the coverings of brain and spinal cord. Typically, they reveal a normal karyotype or monosomy for chromosome 22. Rare clinical progression of meningiomas is associated with a nonrandom pattern of secondary losses of other autosomes. Deletion of the short arm of one chromosome 1 appears to be a decisive step for anaplastic growth in meningiomas. We calculated an oncogenetic tree model that estimates the most likely cytogenetic pathways of 661 meningioma patients in terms of accumulation of somatic chromosome changes in tumor cells. The genetic progression score (GPS) estimates the genetic status of a tumor as progression in the corresponding tumor cells along this model. Large GPS values are highly correlated with early recurrence of meningiomas [p < 10−4]. This correlation holds even if patients are stratified by WHO grade. We show that tumor location also has an impact on genetic progression. Clinical relevance of the GPS is thus demonstrated with respect to origin, WHO grade and recurrence of the tumor. As a quantitative measure the GPS allows a more precise assessment of the prognosis of meningiomas than categorical cytogenetic markers based on single chromosomal aberrations. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.