The incidence of gliomas is on the increase, according to epidemiological data. This increase is a conundrum because the brain is in a privileged protected site behind the blood-brain barrier, and therefore partially buffered from environmental factors. In addition the brain also has a very low proliferative potential compared with other parts of the body. Recent advances in neural stem cell biology have impacted on our understanding of CNS carcinogenesis and tumor types. This article considers the cancer stem cell theory with regard to CNS cancers, whether CNS tumors arise from human neural stem cells and whether glioma stem cells can be reprogrammed.