Clinical, histologic, cytogenetic, and molecular genetic data of 31 patients with extranodal, nodal, and splenic marginal zone B-cell lymphoma (MZBCL) are presented. Despite these variable clinical manifestations, a similar spectrum of morphologic features as well as distinctive immunophenotypic findings were noted. In all cases, a monotypic B-cell proliferation consistently negative for CD5, CD10, and CD23 was found expanding the marginal zone of the B follicle with and without colonization of the follicle centers. Clonal chromosomal abnormalities were detected in 23 of the 31 patients. Recurrent aberrations included whole or partial trisomy 3 (18 cases), trisomy 18 (9 cases), and structural rearrangements of chromosome 1 with breakpoints in 1q21 (9 cases) or 1p34 (6 cases), all of which were seen in extranodal, nodal, as well as splenic MZBCL. Abnormalities of the additional chromosome 3, such as +del(3)(p13),+i(3)(q10), or structural changes involving the distal part of the long arm, were evident in 9 of the 18 cases. All recurrent abnormalities were found in MZBCL more frequently than in other histologic entities of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (B-NHL). None of the known lymphoma-associated chromosomal changes or rearrangements of the BCL1, BCL2, BCL3, BCL6, and CMYC genes were detected. We conclude that MZBCL represent a distinct entity of B- NHL with characteristic morphologic and immunophenotypic features and particular chromosomal abnormalities, and that a close histogenetic relationship between extranodal, nodal, and splenic MZBCL is likely, although the clinical presentation may vary.