Twenty-one cases were selected from 236 thyroidectomies with a diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease for detailed clinicopathologic study on the basis of "early" changes in three cases and an unusually heavy lymphoplasmacytic infiltrate in 18 cases. These cases were studied in conjunction with ten cases of high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the thyroid. Immunoglobulin light chain restriction was demonstrated in five cases of Hashimoto's thyroiditis and the diagnosis was accordingly changed to low-grade lymphoma. All ten high-grade lymphoma cases were of B phenotype and light chain restriction could be demonstrated in eight of them. The study revealed close homology between the lymphoplasmacytic infiltrate in Hashimoto's thyroiditis and normal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). Like lymphomas of mucosal sites, thyroid lymphoma appears to be derived from the parafollicular ("centrocyte-like") B cells. The high-grade thyroid lymphomas appear to be derived from low-grade tumors. There were close histologic, immunohistologic, and clinical similarities between low- and high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphomas of the thyroid and those appearing in mucosal sites. This study confirms the close association between Hashimoto's thyroiditis and B cell lymphoma of the thyroid gland and suggests that this tumor belongs to the group of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas derived from MALT.