Detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood via so-called "liquid biopsies" carries enormous clinical potential in malignancies of the central nervous system (CNS) because of the potential to follow disease evolution with a blood test, without the need for repeat neurosurgical procedures with their inherent risk of patient morbidity. To date, studies in non-CNS malignancies, particularly in breast cancer, show increasing reproducibility of detection methods for these rare tumor cells in the circulation. However, no method has yet received full recommendation to use in clinical practice, in part because of lack of a sufficient evidence base regarding clinical utility. In CNS malignancies, one of the main challenges is finding a suitable biomarker for identification of these cells, because automated systems, such as the widely used Cell Search system, are reliant on markers, such as the epithelial cell adhesion molecule, which are not present in CNS tumors. This review examines methods for CTC enrichment and detection, and reviews the progress in non-CNS tumors and the potential for using this technique in human brain tumors.