Haematology represents a prime example of how rapidly immunology is moving towards the bedside. The diagnosis of blood disease has been modified by the "cluster of differentiation" (CD) nomenclature of leucocyte surface antigens, and the molecular genetics of the immune system has had a major effect on the diagnosis and treatment of blood malignancies. Lymphoid tumours represent a fertile area of interaction between immunology and haematology: B-cell malignancies are associated with dysregulation of the immune system, and antigen exposure might have an important role in the development of lymphoid malignant clones that interact with the microenvironment to avoid apoptosis and acquire better growing conditions. Understanding the pathophysiology of immune-mediated blood diseases has paved the way to the successful use of immunosuppressive agents, and the unravelling of the mechanisms of lymphocyte signal transduction and the relations between lymphocyte activation and apoptosis are allowing new therapeutic approaches. Paradoxically, lymphoid tumours are an excellent model to test the efficacy of manipulating the immune system for the purpose of tumour eradication.