Patients with primary glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) have one of the lowest overall survival rates among cancer patients, and reliable biomarkers are necessary to predict patient outcome. Cytochrome c oxidase (CcO) promotes the switch from glycolytic to OXPHOS metabolism, and increased CcO activity in tumors has been associated with tumor progression after chemotherapy failure. Thus, we investigated the relationship between tumor CcO activity and the survival of patients diagnosed with primary GBM. A total of 84 patients with grade IV glioma were evaluated in this retrospective cohort study. Cumulative survival was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method and analyzed by the log-rank test, and univariate and multivariate analyses were performed with the Cox regression model. Mitochondrial CcO activity was determined by spectrophotometrically measuring the oxidation of cytochrome c. High CcO activity was detected in a subset of glioma tumors (∼30%), and was an independent prognostic factor for shorter progression-free survival and overall survival [P = 0.0087 by the log-rank test, hazard ratio = 3.57 for progression-free survival; P<0.001 by the log-rank test, hazard ratio = 10.75 for overall survival]. The median survival time for patients with low tumor CcO activity was 14.3 months, compared with 6.3 months for patients with high tumor CcO activity. High CcO activity occurs in a significant subset of high-grade glioma patients and is an independent predictor of poor outcome. Thus, CcO activity may serve as a useful molecular marker for the categorization and targeted therapy of GBMs.