We analysed the effects of tobacco and alcohol in the aetiology of Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL), based on 340 cases and 2465 controls enrolled in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Czech Republic, between 1998 and 2004. Current smokers showed a significantly increased odds ratio (OR) of HL of 1.39 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.04-1.87). Analyses were also conducted separately for subjects younger than 35 years (179 cases) and for older subjects (161 cases). For subjects below age 35, no association was observed between tobacco and HL, whereas for older subjects, ever-smokers experienced a doubled risk of HL as compared to never smokers and the OR of HL for current smoking was 2.35 (95% CI = 1.52-3.61), with suggestion of a dose-response relationship. A protective effect of alcohol was observed in both age groups. The OR for ever-regular drinking was 0.58 (95% CI = 0.38-0.89) for younger subjects and 0.50 (95% CI = 0.34-0.74) for older subjects. There was no evidence of interaction between tobacco and alcohol. Our results are consistent with previous studies, suggesting a protective effect of alcohol on HL. An effect of tobacco was suggested for HL occurring in middle and late age, although this finding might have occurred by chance.