Abstract This paper compares parent- and self-report health-related quality of life (HRQL) in children aged 2–16 years with brain tumours, one, six and twelve months after diagnosis with matched normal controls. HRQL was assessed using the PedsQL generic core scales. 37 tumour patients and 42 controls were included in analysis of parent-report, and 27 patients and 31 controls in self-report HRQL. Parent-report scores were significantly lower in patients than controls for all PedsQL scores at all time points (max p = 0.002). Differences in self-report PedsQL between patients and controls were variable. The relationship between self- and parent-report in patients and controls was inconsistent; varied over time; and did not consistently correlate with parental depressive symptoms, suggesting parents and their children do not regard HRQL in a similar way. Prospective, longitudinal assessment of HRQL is important, but should be supplemented with other outcome measures such as health status and behaviour in this population.