Differences in genetic origin between nodal and extranodal diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCL) exist. Using population-based data from the registry of the Danish Lymphoma Group, the present study is the first to analyse clinical implications of nodal versus extranodal presentation of DLBCL. Of 4786 newly diagnosed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients in a 16-year period, 1575 (33%) had DLBCL. The annual incidence rate was 2.9 per 100 000; 40% were extranodal. The clinical profile of patients with extranodal DLBCL was different from the nodal DLBCL patients. Extranodal DLBCL was associated with older age and poorer performance score, but also lower tumour burden. In extranodal DLBCL, 51% of the cases were stage I and 36% were stage IV, whereas the patients were relatively equally distributed between the four stages in nodal DLBCL. For stage I patients, extranodal DLBCL was independently associated with poor survival (P = 0.003). In contrast, among stage IV patients those with extranodal DLBCL survived longer (P = 0.009). We conclude that there are important clinical differences between nodal and extranodal DLBCL. The addition of these clinical results to the existing aetiological and genetic data suggests that the distinction between nodal and extranodal DLBCL is not only pathogenetically but also clinically important.