Although some causes for malignant lymphoma are known their etiology is not well understood so far. We analyze the relationship between sun exposure and malignant lymphoma in a multicenter, population-based case-control study. Patients with malignant lymphoma (n = 710, 18-80 years) were prospectively recruited in 6 study regions in Germany. For each case, a gender, region and age-matched control was drawn from population-registers. In personal interviews, lifetime holidays spent in sunny climate, outdoor leisure activities and sunbed or sunlamp use were recorded. On basis of job task-specific supplementary questionnaires, an occupational physician assessed the cumulative working time outside. Odds ratios (OR) and 95%-confidence-intervals (CI) were calculated using conditional logistic regression analysis, adjusted for smoking and alcohol consumption. To increase statistical power, patients with specific lymphoma subentities were additionally compared with the entire control group using unconditional logistic regression. We observed a reduced overall lymphoma risk among subjects having spent vacations at sunny climates or frequently used sunbeds or sunlamps. The analysis of lymphoma subentities revealed similar results with the exception of T-NHL and follicular lymphoma which were positively associated with outdoor leisure activities. While cumulative working time outside appeared unrelated to NHL overall and most subentities, it was negatively associated with follicular lymphoma and weakly positively to HL. This data suggest that exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet radiation may reduce the OR for lymphoma in this study population.