A collaborative study was carried out of the descriptive epidemiology of the lymphomas from seven countries across Europe in the period 1985-1992. Careful attention was paid to sources of information and the data quality in close collaboration with expert histopathologists. The data were classified as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin's disease (HD). An attempt was made to put the data into a modified version of the Revised European American Lymphoma (REAL) classification. We observed an overall rise in total NHL throughout the time period in all European countries but no such trend in HD. The increase in NHL overall being 4.2% per annum, representing an increase of 4.8% in males and 3.4% in females per annum, was only marked in middle and old age. Such increases were observed in all participating areas except in Burgundy. Different countries, however, have different base rates, the rates being highest in Scandinavia and the Netherlands. The analysis by subcategory classification suggested that the increase in NHL was confined to the follicle centre cell type, extranodal B-cell, nodal T-cell and nodal lymphomas not otherwise specified, categories. These new observations present a picture of real increase in case incidence with no obvious explanation. The increases in NHL do not appear to be due solely to better diagnoses. Pending other explanations or refutation, these present a compelling picture of an inexorable rise in incidence of this disease.