Out of 64 cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL), 55 cases of Hodgkin's disease (HD) and 31 cases of multiple sclerosis (MS), 2 NHL, 7 HD and 1 MS cases were found positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the presence of HHV-6 sequences in pathologic lymph nodes of the lymphomas and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of MS. A further analysis of the PBMCs of the PCR positive cases by standard Southern blot technique revealed only 2 NHL, 3 HD and 1 MS cases as positive, indicating that these six patients have an unusually high viral copy number in the PBMCs. Restriction analysis, carried out using probes representative of different regions of the virus, showed that three cases retain only a deleted portion of the viral genome. In the remaining three cases a complete viral genome was present, containing the right end sequences in which the rep-like gene, possibly crucial to the viral and cellular life cycle, is located. The analysis by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of the total DNA of the PBMCs obtained directly, without culture from PBMCs of these last three cases (1 NHL, 1 HD, and 1 MS), using the same probes, showed the absence of free viral molecules and the association of viral sequences with high molecular weight DNA. These results are consistent with in vivo integration of the entire virus in the cellular genome. A further study of the same patients with chromosome fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) showed in all the three cases the presence of a specific hybridization site, located at the telomeric extremity of the short arm of chromosome 17 (17p13), suggesting that this location is at least a preferred site of an infrequent, but possibly biologically important, integration phenomenon.