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During the past decade or so, a wealth of information about metabolites in various human brain tumour preparations (cultured cells, tissue specimens, tumours in vivo) has been accumulated by global profiling tools. Such holistic approaches to cellular biochemistry have been termed metabolomics. Inherent and specific metabolic profiles of major brain tumour cell types, as determined by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS), have also been used to define metabolite phenotypes in tumours in vivo. This minireview examines the recent advances in the field of human brain tumour metabolomics research, including advances in MRS and mass spectrometry technologies, and data analysis.