Normal tissues express the M1 isoform of pyruvate kinase (PK) that helps generate and funnel pyruvate into the mitochondria for ATP production. Tumors, in contrast, express the less active PKM2 isoform, which limits pyruvate production and spares glycolytic intermediates for the generation of macromolecules needed for proliferation. Although high PKM2 expression and low PK activity are considered defining features of tumors, very little is known about how PKM expression and PK activity change along the continuum from low grade to high grade tumors, and how these changes relate to tumor growth. To address this issue, we measured PKM isoform expression and PK activity in normal brain, neural progenitor cells, and in a series of over 100 astrocytomas ranging from benign grade I pilocytic astrocytomas to highly aggressive grade IV glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). All glioma exhibited comparably reduced levels of PKM1 expression and PK activity relative to normal brain. In contrast, while grade I-III gliomas all had modestly increased levels of PKM2 RNA and protein expression relative to normal brain, GBM, regardless of whether they arose de novo or progressed from lower grade tumors, showed a 3-5 fold further increase in PKM2 RNA and protein expression. Low levels of PKM1 expression and PK activity were important for cell growth as PKM1 over-expression and the accompanying increases in PK activity slowed the growth of GBM cells. The increased expression of PKM2, however, was also important, because shRNA-mediated PKM2 knockdown decreased total PKM2 and the already low levels of PK activity, but paradoxically also limited cell growth in vitro and in vivo. These results show that pyruvate kinase M expression, but not pyruvate kinase activity, is regulated in a grade-specific manner in glioma, but that changes in both PK activity and PKM2 expression contribute to growth of GBM.