Most lymphoblastic lymphomas (LBLs) are regarded as neoplasms of immature T cells because they express cytoplasmic CD3 and frequently carry T-cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangements. Immature natural killer (NK) and T cells, however, have a common bipotent T/NK-cell precursor in the thymus, and NK cells also express cytoplasmic CD3. Thus, some LBLs could arise from immature NK cells. Mature NK cells express 2 CD94 transcripts: 1A, induced by interleukin 15 (IL-15), and 1B constitutively. Because immature NK cells require IL-15 for development, CD94 1A transcripts could be a marker of NK-LBL. To test this hypothesis, we used laser capture microdissection to isolate IL-15 receptor alpha(+) lymphoid cells from the thymus and showed that these cells contained CD94 1A transcripts. We then assessed for CD94 transcripts in 21 cases of LBL that were cytoplasmic CD3(+), nuclear terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase positive (TdT(+)), and CD56(-), consistent with either the T-cell or NK-cell lineage. We found that 7 LBLs expressed CD94 1A transcripts without TCR gene rearrangements, suggesting NK-cell lineage. Patients with NK-LBL were younger than patients with T-LBL (15 years versus 33 years; P = .11) and had a better 2-year survival (100% versus 27%; P < .01). These results improve the current classification of LBL and contribute to our understanding of NK-cell differentiation.