Little is known about the cytokine profile of nodular lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's lymphoma (NLPHL) and the significance of the characteristic rosetting CD4(+)/CD57(+) T cells. We analysed the T lymphocyte populations isolated from lymph node suspensions from five patients with NLPHL, two with follicular hyperplasia and progressive transformation of germinal centres (PTGC), three with classical Hodgkin's lymphoma (CHL) and five with hyperplasia of the tonsil. We sorted the T cells based on expression of CD3, CD4 and CD57 by flow cytometry and evaluated the cytokine mRNA profiles of the T cells with quantitative RT-PCR. NLPHL cases were as rich in T cells as the CHL cases, but all NLPHL cases had a much higher frequency of CD4(+)/CD57(+) T cells. In contrast to the CD4(+)/CD57(+) T cells from tonsils, IL2 and IL4 mRNAs were consistently absent from the CD4(+)/CD57(+) T cells of NLPHL. Even after stimulation, no IL4 transcripts could be detected in the CD4(+)/CD57(+) T cells of NLPHL. On the other hand, IFNgamma transcripts were elevated in NLPHL and PTGC T cell subsets as compared to tonsillar T cell subsets. IL13 mRNA was exclusively produced by the T cells of CHL cases, indicating that IL13 may be a key cytokine in CHL. In conclusion, elevated levels of CD4(+)/CD57(+) T cells are characteristic of NLPHL and these T cells display a distinct cytokine mRNA profile.