We studied 23 cases of angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy (AILD) and AILD-like lymphoma for evidence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and in situ hybridization studies. EBV nucleic acid sequences were found by either PCR or in situ hybridization in 96% of the cases. There was a wide range in the number of EBV-positive cells among the different cases as detected by in situ hybridization. The EBV-positive cells most often possessed nuclei of intermediate to large size. Double-labeling immunohistochemistry/in situ hybridization studies demonstrated that most of the EBV-positive cells expressed the B-lineage antigen CD20 (as detected by L26), with a minority of the EBV-positive cells stained for the T-lineage associated antigen, CD43 (as detected by Leu 22). The abnormally high amounts of EBV found in AILD and AILD-like lymphoma may be a reflection of decreased immunocompetence in these patients. The presence of EBV- positive B cells may explain the presence of B-cell clones found by others as well as the paradoxical occurrence of B-cell lymphoma in a primary T-cell lymphoproliferative disorder.