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I have two shapefiles, the first representing a path (a polyline with a single category), the second representing isochrons from the same origin (point 0) which intersect the above mentioned path. I wonder if it is possible to divide the polyline (path) by the intersecting isochrones (at point 1, point 2, etc.), thus obtaining a segmented polyline with different categories.

QGIS has an useful tool called "line intersections" (vector - analysis tools - line intersections), but it only creates a further shapefile with points at the intersections of the two layers.

Can someone suggest a solution preferably in QGIS or GRASS GIS.

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It sounds like you are wanting to add the isochron intersections as m-values to the original path data. Is this the case, or have I misunderstood? –  MappaGnosis Feb 24 '12 at 16:42
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Take a look at LRS (Linear Referencing System): http://grass.osgeo.org/grass64/manuals/html64_user/lrs.html which may offer you related functionality.

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