The aim of the present study was to identify genetic and epigenetic alterations involved in the progression of oligodendroglial tumors. We characterized 21 paired, World Health Organization (WHO) grade II and III oligodendroglial tumors from patients who received craniotomies for the partial or complete resection of primary and secondary oligodendroglial tumors. Tumor DNA was analyzed for alterations in selected genetic loci (1p36, 9p22, 10q23–24, 17p13, 19q13, 22q12), isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1), isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2) and the CpG island methylation status of critical tumor-related genes (MGMT, P16, DAPK, PTEN, RASSF1A, Rb1). Alterations of these markers were common early in the tumorigenesis. In the primary tumors we identified 12 patients (57.1%) with 1p36 deletions, 17 (81.0%) with 19q13 deletions, 9 (42.9%) with 1p36/19q13 codeletions, 11 (52.3%) with 9p22 deletions, and 12 (57.1%) with IDH1 mutation. Epigenetic analysis detected promoter methylation of the MGMT, P16, DAPK, PTEN, RASSF1A, and Rb1 genes in 38.1%, 19.0%, 38.1%, 33.3%, 66.7%, and 14.3% of primary tumors, respectively. After progression, additional losses of 1p, 9p, 10q, 17p, 19q and 22q were observed in 3 (14.3%), 1 (4.8%), 3 (14.3%), 2 (9.5%), 1 (4.8%) and 3 (14.3%) cases, respectively. Additional methylations of the MGMT, P16, DAPK, PTEN, RASSF1A, and RB1 promoters was observed in 4 (19.0%), 2 (9.5%), 0 (0%), 6 (28.6%), 2(9.5%) and 3 (14.3%) cases, respectively. The status of IDH1 mutation remained unchanged in all tumors after progression. The primary tumors of three patients with subsequent progression to high-grade astrocytomas, all had 9p deletion, intact 1p, intact 10q and unmethylated MGMT. Whether this may represent a molecular signature of patients at-risk for the development of aggressive astrocytomas needs further investigation.