This study analyzes the association of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) arising in patients without pre-existing overt immunodeficiency. The authors examined 201 lymphomas (105 high-grade B-cell, 82 peripheral T-cell, 7 high-grade non-B-cell, non-T-cell, and 7 hairy-cell leukemia) for EBV gene expression by immunohistologic procedures using monoclonal antibodies to EBV latent, immediate early, and replicative infection antigens. Transformation-associated EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP 1) was detected in 13 (6%) NHL, comprising 4 (4%) high-grade B-cell, 8 (10%) peripheral T-cell, and 1 non-B-cell, non-T-cell lymphomas. Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma of T-cell type was consistently LMP 1-negative. EBV nuclear antigen 2 was demonstrated in only three (1%) cases. Induction of replication as defined by expression of the immediate early BamHI Z leftward reading frame 1 (BZLF1) protein was detected in five cases, but early (EA) and late (VCA and MA) lytic cycle antigens were only found in two cases and in one case, respectively. The presence of EBV was confirmed by in situ DNA hybridization in 9 of 11 EBV antigen-positive lymphomas. This study shows the surprisingly frequent presence of EBV in peripheral T-cell NHL in European patients without pre-existing overt immunodeficiency. Interestingly, most sporadic B-cell NHL are not associated with the virus. Furthermore, the usefulness of selected monoclonal antibodies for the routine immunohistological diagnosis of EBV infection was confirmed.