Primary astrocytomas of World Health Organization grade 3 and grade 4 (HG-astrocytomas) are preponderant among adults and are almost invariably fatal despite multimodal therapy. Here, we show that the juvenile brain has an endogenous defense mechanism against HG-astrocytomas. Neural precursor cells (NPCs) migrate to HG-astrocytomas, reduce glioma expansion and prolong survival by releasing a group of fatty acid ethanolamides that have agonistic activity on the vanilloid receptor (transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily member-1; TRPV1). TRPV1 expression is higher in HG-astrocytomas than in tumor-free brain and TRPV1 stimulation triggers tumor cell death via the activating transcription factor-3 (ATF3) controlled branch of the ER stress pathway. The anti-tumorigenic response of NPCs is lost with aging. NPC-mediated tumor suppression can be mimicked in the adult brain by systemic administration of the synthetic vanilloid Arvanil, suggesting that TRPV1 agonists hold potential as new HG-astrocytoma therapeutics.