Based largely on animal experiments, a dysregulative lymphoma theory was designed some 15 years ago as a basis for computer simulation studies. The basic concept of this theory was that lymphomas arise when persistent immunostimulation coincides with some kind of immune deficiency. The present article reviews exemplary data from human lymphoma cases in an attempt to further support or to reject the hypothesis. T- and B-cell lymphomas according to the REAL classification were reviewed with regard to the functional effects of their CD markers and their ligands, interleukin activities and cytogenetic changes. The results are summarized and further discussed. Essentially in all cases, a combination of enhanced stimulation of lymphoid cells and functional deficiency is identified, thus supporting the general pathogenetic hypothesis of malignant lymphomas. Despite using the most modem lymphoma classification, however, lymphoma entities and theirfunctional changes are so heterogeneous that cases need to be studied individually when it comes to pathogenetic considerations.