Patients with primary brain tumors have bleak prognoses and there is an urgent desire to identify new markers for sensitive diagnosis and new therapeutic targets for effective treatment. A family of proteins, the disintegrin and metalloproteinases (ADAMs or adamalysins), are cell surface and extracellular multidomain proteins implicated in cell-cell signaling, cell adhesion, and cell migration. Their putative biological and pathological roles make them candidates for promoting tumor growth and malignancy. We investigated the expression levels of 12 cerebrally expressed ADAM genes in human primary brain tumors (astrocytoma WHO grade I-III, glioblastoma WHO grade IV, oligoastrocytoma WHO grade II and III, oligodendroglioma WHO grade II and III, ependymoma WHO grade II and III, and primitive neuroectodermal tumor WHO grade IV) using real-time PCR. The mRNAs of the five ADAMs 8, 12, 15, 17, and 19 were significantly upregulated. The ADAM8 and ADAM19 proteins were mainly located in tumor cells and in some tumors in endothelia of blood vessels. In brain tumor tissue, ADAM8 and ADAM19 undergo activation by prodomain removal resulting in active proteases. By using specific peptide substrates for ADAM8 and ADAM19, respectively, we demonstrated that the proteases exert enhanced proteolytic activity in those tumor specimens with the highest expression levels. In addition, expression levels and the protease activities of ADAM8 and ADAM19 correlated with invasive activity of glioma cells, indicating that ADAM8 and ADAM19 may play a significant role in tumor invasion that may be detrimental to patients survival.