Lethal midline granuloma (LMG) is associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The latter has at least two subtypes with different biological properties. The subtypes can be identified by their genomic configuration. Using EBV-RNA (EBER) in situ hybridization and EBV polymerase chain reaction (PCR), we have looked for the presence of EBV in six LMGs and six non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs) located in the nasopharyngeal region, and determined the subtype of EBV. Six of six LMGs were positive by PCR and EBER in situ hybridization, whereas NHLs were either negative or, in three of six cases, showed few EBER- positive cells considered to be nonneoplastic lymphocytes. The subtype 2 was found in LMG lesions of three of six patients; the remaining three of six patients with LMG had the generally occurring subtype 1. The results indicate that the association of EBV with NHL may depend more on tumor type than on its localization. The occurrence of the rare subtype 2 in LMG may relate to a covert immune defect.