OBJECTIVE: To analyze glucose transporter 1 expression patterns in malignant tumors of various cell types and evaluate their diagnostic value by immunohistochemistry. INTRODUCTION: Glucose is the major source of energy for cells, and glucose transporter 1 is the most common glucose transporter in humans. Glucose transporter 1 is aberrantly expressed in several tumor types. Studies have implicated glucose transporter 1 expression as a prognostic and diagnostic marker in tumors, primarily in conjunction with positron emission tomography scan data. METHODS: Immunohistochemistry for glucose transporter 1 was performed in tissue microarray slides, comprising 1955 samples of malignant neoplasm from different cell types. RESULTS: Sarcomas, lymphomas, melanomas and hepatoblastomas did not express glucose transporter 1. Fortyseven per cent of prostate adenocarcinomas were positive, as were 29% of thyroid, 10% of gastric and 5% of breast adenocarcinomas. Thirty-six per cent of squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck were positive, as were 42% of uterine cervix squamous cell carcinomas. Glioblastomas and retinoblastomas showed membranous glucose transporter 1 staining in 18.6% and 9.4% of all cases, respectively. Squamous cell carcinomas displayed membranous expression, whereas adenocarcinomas showed cytoplasmic glucose transporter 1 expression. CONCLUSION: Glucose transporter 1 showed variable expression in various tumor types. Its absence in sarcomas, melanomas, hepatoblastomas and lymphomas suggests that other glucose transporters mediate the glycolytic pathway in these tumors. The data suggest that glucose transporter 1 is a valuable immunohistochemical marker that can be used to identify patients for evaluation by positron emission tomography scan. The function of cytoplasmic glucose transporter 1 in adenocarcinomas must be further examined.