The detection of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nucleic acids by in situ hybridization (ISH) with biotinylated BamHI-W probes was correlated with the expressions of EBV latent membrane protein (LMP) and EB nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA2), in 107 cases of Hodgkin's disease (HD) of different immunomorphologic subtypes. Epstein-Barr virus nucleic acids were present and restricted to the pathogenic cells in 4 of 40 (10%) cases of nodular sclerosis (NS) and 33 of 55 (60%) cases of mixed cellularity (MC), but were undetectable in other subtypes. Of the 37 cases positive for EBV nucleic acids, 35 (95%) showed the expression of LMP. Epstein-Barr virus nucleic acids and LMP were restricted to Reed-Sternberg cells and variants. Only 1 case (MC) showed LMP expression in the absence of EBV detection. The correlation was strengthened by the finding of LMP expression at first diagnosis in 6/7 EBV positive cases at relapse (14-126 months) (5/5 EBV negative cases at relapse were LMP negative at first diagnosis). EBNA2 was absent in all 13 (NS, 2; MC, 11) EBV+ and LMP+ cases tested. Both LMP and EBNA2 were expressed in control EBV-positive tissues and cell lines. EBV serology in MC HD was indicative of latent EBV infection, but neither serology nor clinical parameters correlated with the presence or the absence of EBV, over a short-term follow-up (median, 20 months). The findings, although not proving EBV as the etiologic agent of HD, suggest that: 1) LMP expression alone may be adequate for identifying EBV-associated HD, 2) the MC subtype has a stronger relation with EBV presence, and 3) the regulation of EBV genes in HD is different from other EBV-associated disorders. The clinical implications still remain to be discovered.