Introduction High-grade astrocytomas of the mesial temporal lobe may pose surgical challenges. Several approaches (trans-sylvian, subtemporal, and transcortical) have been designed to circumnavigate the critical neurovascular structures and white fiber tracts that surround this area. Considering the paucity of literature on the transcortical approach for these lesions, we describe our institutional experience with transcortical approaches to Grade III/IV astrocytomas in the mesial temporal lobe. Methods Between 1999 and 2009, 23 patients underwent surgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions for Grade III/IV astrocytomas involving the mesial temporal lobe (without involvement of the temporal neocortex). Clinical notes, operative records, and imaging were reviewed. Results Thirteen patients had tumors in the dominant hemisphere. All patients underwent surgery via a transcortical approach (14 via the inferior temporal gyrus and 9 via the middle temporal gyrus). Gross total resection was obtained in 92% of the cohort. Neurological outcomes were: clinically significant stroke (2 patients), new visual deficits (2 patients), new speech deficit (1 patient); seizure control (53%). Conclusions In comparison to reported results in the literature for the transylvian and subtemporal approaches, the transcortical approach may provide the access necessary for a gross total resection with minimal neurological consequences. In our series of patients, there was no statistically significant difference in outcomes between the middle temporal gyrus versus the inferior temporal gyrus trajectories.