Twenty-nine out of 31 consecutive pediatric patients with Hodgkin's disease treated at our hospital from 1988 to 1992 were studied. The selection criterion was the availability of sufficient formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue for analysis. Patient age ranged from 3 to 15 years with a median age of 7 years. Lymph node biopsies were examined for the presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded latent membrane protein (LMP) in malignant cells by peroxidase immunolabeling. LMP positivity was present in 10/15 (67%) of mixed cellularity, 1/6 (17%) of lymphocyte predominance, 0/7 (0%) of nodular sclerosis, and 1/1 (100%) of lymphocyte depletion. Positive cases by age range were: 10/12 (83%) for 3-6 years and 2/17 (11%) for 7-15 years. The association between EBV and Hodgkin's disease in children appeared to be more frequent in patients with mixed cellularity and those in the 3-6 age range, through examples of EBV-positive tumors were found in other histologic subtypes, stages and ages. Findings indicate that Hodgkin's disease in children is at least as strongly linked to EBV as in adults. Furthermore, we suggest that the EBV is associated with a subgroup of patients which can be defined on the basis of the age at diagnosis.