PURPOSE: Malignant rhabdoid tumors (MRT) can occur in a variety of anatomical sites. The most frequent locations are the brain, where they are named atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (AT/RT), and the kidney, where they are named rhabdoid tumors of the kidney (RTK). MRTs at all sites are recognized as the same entity due to their similar morphology, aggressive behavior, and a common genetic abnormality, an inactivating mutation of the SMARCB1/INI-1/hSNF5/BAF47 gene. We aim to investigate potential molecular differences between AT/RT and RTK. METHODS: We analyzed the microRNA (miRNA) and gene expression (GE) profiles of 10 RTK, 13 AT/RT, and 2 human MRT cell lines (G401-RTK and MON-AT/RT). Illumina V2 MicroRNA Chips (Illumina, Inc., CA, USA) were used for miRNA analysis, and Illumina HT-12 whole genome expression arrays were used for GE analysis. RESULTS: The distribution of p values from GE showed a significant difference between RTK and AT/RT, with 20 % of the genes having p values =0.05 and the principal component analysis of the GE data showed separation between RTK and AT/RT. However, the miRNA expression failed to identify the different tumor groups. Among the 122 genes significantly differentially expressed between AT/RT and RTK, we found both genes related to brain development (i.e., FABP7, 22-fold increase in AT/RT) and genes related to kidney development (i.e., TCF21, sixfold increase in RTK). CONCLUSION: Based on our results, we hypothesized that although MRT are indeed the same tumor, independent of the site of origin, the GE differences reflect the influence of microenvironment over tumor development.