Increased risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) following exposure to certain pesticides has previously been reported. To further elucidate the importance of phenoxyacetic acids and other pesticides in the etiology of NHL a pooled analysis was performed on two case-control studies, one on NHL and another on hairy cell leukemia (HCL), a rare subtype of NHL. The studies were population based with cases identified from cancer registry and controls from population registry. Data assessment was ascertained by questionnaires supplemented over the telephone by specially trained interviewers. The pooled analysis of NHL and HCL was based on 515 cases and 1141 controls. Increased risks in univariate analysis were found for subjects exposed to herbicides (OR 1.75, CI 95% 1.26-2.42), insecticides (OR 1.43, CI 95% 1.08-1.87), fungicides (OR 3.11, CI 95% 1.56-6.27) and impregnating agents (OR 1.48, CI 95% 1.11-1.96). Among herbicides, significant associations were found for glyphosate (OR 3.04, CI 95% 1.08-8.52) and 4-chloro-2-methyl phenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) (OR 2.62, CI 95% 1.40-4.88). For several categories of pesticides the highest risk was found for exposure during the latest decades before diagnosis. However, in multivariate analyses the only significantly increased risk was for a heterogeneous category of other herbicides than above.