The relationship between skin cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) suggests common genetic, host or environmental causes. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR), pigmentary characteristics have been linked with both malignancies, and for skin cancer, the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) which influences pigmentation has also been implicated. This paper reports on the relationship between MC1R, skin, hair and eye colour, time spent outdoors, and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and follicular lymphoma (FL). Persons carrying MC1R homozygote variant alleles at R151C, R160W, D294H and D84E were more likely to have fair skin, red hair and to spend less time outdoors than those who did not. The variant allele at V92M was associated with FL (odds ratio (OR)=1.61, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-2.39) and the r:wild type genotype with DLBCL (OR=0.58, 95% CI 0.38-0.89). Interactions between MC1R genotypes and skin colour influenced DLBCL risk; the RR genotype increased risk in individuals with medium or dark skin, based on 5 cases and no controls, but decreased risk among those of fair skin. On the whole, DLBCL and FL risk were not related to genetic variation in MC1R, pigmentation or time spent outdoors.