© 2018 The Author(s). Glioma is a unique neoplastic disease that develops exclusively in the central nervous system (CNS) and rarely metastasizes to other tissues. This feature strongly implicates the tumor-host CNS microenvironment in gliomagenesis and tumor progression. We investigated the differences and similarities in glioma biology as conveyed by transcriptomic patterns across four mammalian hosts: rats, mice, dogs, and humans. Given the inherent intra-tumoral molecular heterogeneity of human glioma, we focused this study on tumors with upregulation of the platelet-derived growth factor signaling axis, a common and early alteration in human gliomagenesis. The results reveal core neoplastic alterations in mammalian glioma, as well as unique contributions of the tumor host to neoplastic processes. Notable differences were observed in gene expression patterns as well as related biological pathways and cell populations known to mediate key elements of glioma biology, including angiogenesis, immune evasion, and brain invasion. These data provide new insights regarding mammalian models of human glioma, and how these insights and models relate to our current understanding of the human disease.