Simulation and planning of surgery using a virtual reality model is becoming common with advances in computer technology. In this study, we conducted a literature search to find trends in virtual simulation of surgery for brain tumors. A MEDLINE search for "neurosurgery AND (simulation OR virtual reality)" retrieved a total of 1,298 articles published in the past 10 years. After eliminating studies designed solely for education and training purposes, 28 articles about the clinical application remained. The finding that the vast majority of the articles were about education and training rather than clinical applications suggests that several issues need be addressed for clinical application of surgical simulation. In addition, 10 of the 28 articles were from Japanese groups. In general, the 28 articles demonstrated clinical benefits of virtual surgical simulation. Simulation was particularly useful in better understanding complicated spatial relations of anatomical landmarks and in examining surgical approaches. In some studies, Virtual reality models were used on either surgical navigation system or augmented reality technology, which projects virtual reality images onto the operating field. Reported problems were difficulties in standardized, objective evaluation of surgical simulation systems; inability to respond to tissue deformation caused by surgical maneuvers; absence of the system functionality to reflect features of tissue (e.g., hardness and adhesion); and many problems with image processing. The amount of description about image processing tended to be insufficient, indicating that the level of evidence, risk of bias, precision, and reproducibility need to be addressed for further advances and ultimately for full clinical application.