The cellular lineage of 57 diffuse large-cell lymphomas (DLCLs) was determined using a panel of monoclonal antibodies directed against lineage-restricted and -associated T, B, and monocyte antigens. The majority (82%) were of B cell lineage as determined by the expression of sig and/or B1, with the remaining 16% being of T cell lineage and 2%, of monocyte-myeloid lineage. By the expression of other B cell- restricted and -associated antigens, two major and two minor subgroups could be identified. These subgroups expressed the following phenotypes: (1) B1+B4+sIG+B2- (51%); (2) B1+B4+sIg+B2+ (29%); (3) B1+B4+sIg-B2+ (10%); and (4) B1+B4-sIg+B2- (10)%. The morphology of transformed lymphocytes, the weak to absent expression of the early B cell antigens B2 and sIgD, and the absence of the late B cell differentiation antigens PCA-1 and PC-1 suggested that these tumors were the neoplastic counterparts of normal B cells at the mid-stages of differentiation. Further support for the notion that B-DLCLs correspond to transformed B lymphocytes was concluded from the observation that B cells could be identified in normal spleen that expressed the cell surface phenotype and morphological appearance of the majority of B- DLCLs.