The diagnostic category of Burkitt's lymphoma encompasses a closely related group of aggressive B-cell tumors that includes sporadic, endemic, and human immunodeficiency virus-associated subtypes. All subtypes are characterized by chromosomal rearrangements involving the c-myc proto-oncogene that lead to its inappropriate expression. This review focuses on the roles of c-myc dysregulation and Epstein-Barr virus infection in Burkitt's lymphoma. Although the normal function of c-Myc remains enigmatic, recent data indicate that it has a central role in several fundamental aspects of cellular biology, including proliferation, differentiation, metabolism, apoptosis, and telomere maintenance. We discuss new insights into the molecular mechanisms of these c-Myc activities and their potential relevance to the pathogenesis of Burkitt's lymphoma and speculate on the role of Epstein-Barr virus.