HOX genes encode a family of evolutionarily conserved homeodomain transcription factors that are crucial both during development and adult life. In humans, 39 HOX genes are arranged in four clusters (HOXA, B, C, and D) in chromosomes 7, 17, 12, and 2, respectively. During embryonic development, particular epigenetic states accompany their expression along the anterior-posterior body axis. This tightly regulated temporal-spatial expression pattern reflects their relative chromosomal localization, and is critical for normal embryonic brain development when HOX genes are mainly expressed in the hindbrain and mostly absent in the forebrain region. Epigenetic marks, mostly polycomb-associated, are dynamically regulated at HOX loci and regulatory regions to ensure the finely tuned HOX activation and repression, highlighting a crucial epigenetic plasticity necessary for homeostatic development. HOX genes are essentially absent in healthy adult brain, whereas they are detected in malignant brain tumours, namely gliomas, where HOX genes display critical roles by regulating several hallmarks of cancer. Here, we review the major mechanisms involved in HOX genes (de)regulation in the brain, from embryonic to adult stages, in physiological and oncologic conditions. We focus particularly on the emerging causes of HOX gene deregulation in glioma, as well as on their functional and clinical implications.