To define the histologic, cytogenetic (CG) and clinical spectrum of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) carrying an 8q24 (c-myc) translocation, 87 patients with an 8q24 aberration were identified from 785 consecutive successfully analyzed cases. Aberrations involving 8q24 were found at diagnosis (n = 66) or at relapse/progression (n = 21). Histologically, Burkitt-like lymphoma (BLL) (32%) and Burkitt's leukemia/lymphoma (BL) (19%) with 8q24 changes at diagnosis, was the most common. Nevertheless, 46% of cytogenetically characterized BL and BLL cases do not show 8q24 aberrations. On the other hand, 8q24 aberration was also often found in follicular lymphoma (FL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and low-grade NHL cases at progression. Cytogenetically, a de novo group is represented by classical t(8;14)(q24;q32) (n = 41), with isolated 8q24 changes, fewer secondary CG changes and represent mostly BL/BLL cases. In contrast, cases carrying variant 8q24 aberrations (n = 29) contain more CG events, carried primary 14q32 translocations, and included most FL, MCL and diffuse large B cell (DLBC) lymphoma cases. Clinically, the overall median follow-up was 8.6 months (range 0-192), with a median survival of 4.2 months from CG analysis. The presence of a 8q24 aberration give a statistically significant inferior prognosis than its absence in all histological groups, independent of clinical prognostic factors, when analyzed both at diagnosis and at relapse. We conclude that the finding of an 8q24 aberration is of marked negative prognostic significance, either at diagnosis or at disease progression, in a variety of NHL.