Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) is a major complication of the late stages of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease. Epstein Barr virus (EBV) infection is the only genetic lesion consistently associated with this neoplasia. Recently, it has been proposed that the pathogenesis of AIDS-related PCNSL (AIDS-PCNSL) may be associated with infection by human herpesvirus-8/Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus (HHV-8/KSHV), although at present such association remains controversial. In order to conclusively assess the link between HHV-8/KSHV infection and AIDS-PCNSL, we performed a comprehensive study based on multiple molecular assays on cerebral tissues and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as well as specific immunologic assays on patients' sera. A well characterized panel of 33 Italian patients with AIDS-PCNSL and 13 controls with other HIV-related brain focal diseases from the same geographical area was analyzed. No signs of HHV-8/KSHV infection were detected in cerebral tissues by single-step PCR. Cerebral tissues of all AIDS-PCNSL scored negative for HHV-8/KSHV DNA sequences also by nested PCR, with the exception of one single patient who was simultaneously affected by Kaposi's sarcoma. All CSF samples analyzed were consistently devoid of HHV-8/KSHV sequences by molecular assays. By serologic assays, detecting both latent and lytic HHV-8/KSHV antigens, a specific immunoreactivity was observed in 16/33 (48%) AIDS-PCNSL and in 6/13 (46%) controls (P = 0.88). A significant correlation with HHV-8/KSHV serum reactivity was seen with a homosexual route of HIV transmission (P = 0.018), but not with the presence of AIDS-PCNSL. The results of our analysis conclusively assess that HHV-8/KSHV infection is not a feature of AIDS-PCNSL.