Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the central nervous system (NHL-CNS) is thought to account for about 1% of primary brain tumours. Radiation therapy has mainly been applied to treat cerebral lymphoma, but the low cure rate and the lack of enduring response have stimulated the search for alternatives. With the aim of postponing radiotherapy as long as possible, we tested the efficacy of a M-BACOD schedule administered immediately after histological diagnosis in 14 patients. After two M-BACOD courses 10 (71%) patients displayed an objective response (i.e. were apparently tumour-free when examined by CT). In 6 (60%) M-BACOD-responsive patients, radiotherapy was delayed for 5 months (without recurrences after a follow-up ranging from 9 to 18 months). Moreover, in 3 M-BACOD-responsive patients, no recurrence took place (even without radiotherapy) after a follow-up of 6-12 months. We conclude that radiation can be postponed after chemotherapy or delayed until tumor recurrence.