Background Chordomas and chondrosarcomas can occur in the skull base. Currently, 45% of chordomas and 56% of chondrosarcomas recur within 5 years of surgery. The role of adjuvant therapy is highly debated. No pharmacotherapies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for chordomas or chondrosarcomas. High propensity for recurrence and lack of definitive adjuvant therapy necessitate additional basic science research to identify molecular anomalies associated with recurrent disease. Methods We pooled tumor lysates from patients based on clinical criteria into 4 groups: primary chordomas, primary chordomas that recurred, primary chondrosarcomas, and primary chondrosarcomas that recurred. We used a peptide labeling method, isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation, to uniquely identify each tumor group. Phosphorylated peptides were identified and quantified via mass spectroscopy to determine and predict active kinases. Results Six groups of phosphorylated peptides were associated with primary tumors that later recurred. Specific kinases associated with primary chordomas that recurred were FES and FER. Specific kinases associated with primary chondrosarcomas that recurred were FES, FER, SRC family kinases, PKC, ROCK, and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling (JNK, ERK1, p38). Conclusions These data provide clinicians with a means to screen skull base chordomas and chondrosarcomas to help identify tumors with a propensity to recur. Many of these kinases can be efficaciously inhibited by Food and Drug Administration–approved drugs that have not yet been used in clinical trials for treatment of skull base chordomas or chondrosarcomas. Validation of kinases identified in this study may advance treatment options for patients with these tumors.