A detailed morphologic and immunohistochemical study has been carried out on salivary glands excised from 20 cases in which the initial histologic diagnosis was either myoepithelial sialadenitis (MESA) or salivary gland lymphoma (SGL). The results have shown that these cases, except one that had been diagnosed as MESA, showed a spectrum of changes ranging from focal lymphoid infiltrates, designated as early MESA, through established MESA with dense, extensive lymphoid infiltration, to lymphoma. The distribution of the lymphoid infiltrate in early MESA was related to ducts and mimicked Peyers patches. In established MESA, this infiltrate became confluent with the formation of prominent epimyoepithelial islands. The evolution of lymphoma was characterized by an expanded population of centrocyte-like (CCL) cells that showed light chain restriction. Like other lymphomas of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue, to which they bear a striking resemblance, salivary gland lymphomas may remain localized for prolonged periods with a tendency to local recurrence rather than to distant spread. These properties may be explained by the histogenesis of these tumors from CCL cells that appear to be of similar lineage of splenic marginal zone cells.