B cell lymphoproliferative disorders arising in organ transplant recipients (B cell posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders [PTLD]) are generally associated with EBV. In previous reports, B cell PTLD were shown to express the full pattern of EBV latent genes, as in vitro-established lymphoblastoid cell lines. Although viral linear DNA was detected in 40% of lymphoproliferative disorders from immunocompromised hosts, immunophenotypic studies failed to detect late EBV replicative antigens. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of EBV latent gene expression in B cell PTLD to morphology, clonality, and immunophenotype, and to examine the replicative state of EBV in malignant cells. For this purpose, 9 cases of EBV-related B cell PTLD were analyzed. Immunoglobulin gene rearrangements were detected by Southern blot analysis. The presence of EBV was assessed by Southern blot and by in situ hybridization. B cell differentiation antigens, adhesion and activation molecules, and EBV latent and replicative gene expression were studied using immunohistochemistry techniques. We demonstrated that EBV-related B cell PTLD exhibited varying patterns of latent viral gene expression. Higher levels of adhesion molecules were detected in latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) or LMP1 plus EBV nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA2)-positive tumors than in LMP1 and EBNA2-negative tumors. In contrast, there was no relationship between CD21 and CD23 expression and latent EBV phenotype. Activation of the EBV replicative cycle was highlighted by BamHI Z left frame 1 expression in 5 of 9 cases. Less frequent expression of late viral proteins suggested that the initiation of the EBV lytic cycle might not always lead to virions production.