Transgenic technologies have come of age, and the field of carcinogenesis has profited extensively from the availability of these methods. Both the inappropriate expression of dominant oncogenes in specific tissues and the ability to "knock out" tumor suppressor genes in mammalian organisms have enabled substantial advancements of our understanding of development and progression of the neoplastic phenotype. In the first part of this article, we review the most popular techniques for modification of the mammalian genome in vivo, i.e. microinjection of fertilized eggs, retrovirus-mediated gene transfer, and targeted gene deletion through homologous recombination. Subsequently, we attempt a critical evaluation of the available models of neurocarcinogenesis, and discuss their impact and future potential for the study of cancer in the nervous system.