Patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and especially primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS), are at higher risk than the general population of developing B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Analyses of the association between various lymphoma subtypes and specific disease entities suggest that this association might be mediated by disease-specific mechanisms, as well as by mechanisms unique to lymphoma subtype. These specific associations can provide important information about abnormal B-cell stimulation in these conditions. Patients with primary SS, SLE and RA are at high risk of developing diffuse large B-cell lymphomas, a group of high-grade NHLs with remarkable heterogeneity. Patients with primary SS are at particularly high risk of developing marginal-zone B-cell lymphomas. The risk factors of lymphoma development in primary SS seem to be closely related to the underlying mechanisms of abnormal stimulation and/or impaired censoring mechanisms of B cells. In patients with RA and SLE, more intense disease activity and/or long-lasting disease might be indications of a higher risk of lymphoma development. This Review will focus on the risk of lymphoma, common and disease-specific mechanisms of B-cell lymphoma development, and on the clinical consequences of lymphoma in patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases.