Recent studies have indicated that patients who received rituximab as an adjuvant to stem cell transplantation (SCT) demonstrated an increased risk of developing severe hypogammaglobulinaemia, which was found to be a result of delayed recovery of CD27 positive memory B cells and impaired isotype expression. It appears that rituximab influences both the quantity and quality of B-cell redistribution. Precisely how the B-cell repertoire regenerates after anti-CD20-mediated transient B-cell depletion in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) remains to be elucidated. This study performed a phenotypical analysis of B cells in 17 NHL patients who received rituximab as an adjuvant to autologous SCT. The median period after final administration of rituximab was 36 months (range, 12-43 months). Surface antigen expression of CD27, CD40 and CD80 in NHL patients was statistically significantly different from healthy controls (n = 14). Moreover, B cells from NHL patients showed significantly impaired IgG and IgA production upon engagement of surface immunoglobulin receptors in the presence of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-10 and CD40 ligand in comparison with samples from healthy controls. The delayed recovery of memory B cells with an abnormal cell marker expression and function demonstrates that naive B cells may fail to differentiate into plasma cells, resulting in hypogammaglobulinaemia after autologous SCT and rituximab therapy.