Background: CNS injury including stroke, infection, and tumor growth lead to astrogliosis, a process that involves upregulation of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in astrocytes. However, the kinetics of astrogliosis that is related to these insults (i.e. tumor) is largely unknown.Results: Using transgenic mice expressing firefly luciferase under the regulation of the GFAP promoter (GFAP-luc), we developed a model system to monitor astrogliosis upon tumor growth in a rapid, non-invasive manner. A biphasic induction of astrogliosis was observed in our xenograft model in which an early phase of activation of GFAP was associated with inflammatory response followed by a secondary, long-term upregulation of GFAP. These animals reveal GFAP activation with kinetics that is in parallel with tumor growth. Furthermore, a strong correlation between astrogliosis and tumor size was observed.Conclusions: Our results suggest that non-invasive, quantitative bioluminescent imaging using GFAP-luc reporter animal is a useful tool to monitor temporal-spatial kinetics of host-mediated astrogliosis that is associated with glioma and metastatic brain tumor growth. © 2011 Lee et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.