Sixty-nine anaplastic large cell lymphomas (ALCLs) were selected from an Italian comparative trial on MACOP-B and F-MACHOP. As no significant difference in effectiveness of the protocols emerged, they were considered homogeneously treated. The ALCLs were divided into two groups according to previously defined criteria: 41 were common type (ALCLs-CT) and 28 Hodgkin-related (ALCLs-HR). T-cell phenotype was most common (58%), while B-cell, null and hybrid forms accounted for 27%, 13% and 2%. Clinically, ALCLs CT and HR differed as to mean age (27 v 34.3 years) and presentation; all ALCLs-HR showed mediastinal involvement, with bulky disease in 57%, and more frequent occurrence in stage II. In contrast, ALCLs-CT showed mediastinal masses in 58.5%, infrequently revealed bulky disease (24%), and were not specifically associated to stage. Among the ALCLs-CT, 68.4% achieved complete remission (CR), 24.4% partial remission (PR), one (2.4%) was resistant to therapy, and two (4.8%) had fatal drug toxicity. Of the ALCLs-HR, 67.8% reached CR, 14.3% PR, and 17.9% did not respond. In CR, ALCLs-CT showed a greater tendency to relapse (32.1% v 14.2%). At present, 65.8% of ALCLs-CT and 67.8% of ALCLs-HR are alive with overall survival/disease-free survival averages of 31/27 and 29/24 months respectively. Our data emphasize that, independently of subtype, ALCLs benefit from the application of third-generation protocols for high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.