Gliosarcoma is a rare variant of glioblastoma characterized by a biphasic pattern of glial and mesenchymal differentiation. It is unclear whether mesenchymal differentiation in gliosarcomas is because of extensive genomic instability and/or to a mechanism similar to epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). In the present study, we assessed 40 gliosarcomas for immunoreactivity of Slug, Twist, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), which are involved in EMT in epithelial tumors. Nuclear Slug expression was observed in >50% of neoplastic cells in mesenchymal tumor areas of 33 (83%) gliosarcomas, but not in glial areas (P < 0.0001). Nuclear Twist expression was observed in >50% of neoplastic cells in mesenchymal tumor areas of 35 (88%) gliosarcomas, but glial tumor areas were largely negative except in four cases (P < 0.0001). Expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9 was also significantly more extensive in mesenchymal than in glial tumor areas. None of 20 ordinary glioblastomas showed Slug or Twist expression in >10% neoplastic cells. Thus, expression of Slug, Twist, MMP-2 and MMP-9 was characteristic of mesenchymal tumor areas of gliosarcomas, suggesting that mechanisms involved in the EMT in epithelial neoplasms may play roles in mesenchymal differentiation in gliosarcomas.