To investigate clinicopathological features of pyothorax-associated lymphoma (PAL), we examined medical records of 98 patients (88 males and 10 females) with PAL at a median age of 70 years (range 51-86). Seventy-nine patients had a history of artificial pneumothorax. Median interval between diagnosis and artificial pneumothorax was 43 years (range 19-64). At diagnosis, performance status (PS) was 0-1 (n=56) and 2-4 (n=42). Clinical stages were I (n=42), II (n=26), III (n=8) and IV (n=22). Pathological diagnosis comprised diffuse large-B-cell (n=78) and peripheral T-cell lymphoma (n=1). Seventeen were treated supportively. The other 81 received aggressive treatments; chemotherapy (n=52), radiotherapy (n=7), surgery (n=4) and combination (n=18). Five-year overall survival (OS) was 0.35 (95% confidence interval, 24% to 45%). Causes of deaths were PAL (n=39), respiratory failure (n=13) and others (n=12). Multivariate analysis identified prognostic factors for OS; lactate dehydrogenase levels [hazard ratio (HR)=2.36; P=0.013], sex (female versus male) (HR=0.15; P=0.01), PS (2-4 versus 0-1) (HR=2.20; P=0.02), clinical stages (III/IV versus I/II) (HR=1.95; P=0.037) and chemotherapy (HR=0.31; P=0.01). Most patients with PAL are elderly and have comorbidities, while some of them achieve durable remission with appropriate treatments. These findings prompt us to establish an optimal treatment strategy on the basis of risk stratification of individual patients.