Small bowel lymphomas account for 20 to 40% of primary gut lymphomas in Western populations and are among the most common malignant tumours of the small bowel. We studied 119 cases of primary small bowel lymphoma presenting over 4 decades. Two thirds of the patients were men with a peak age incidence in the 7th decade. Common presenting features included abdominal pain, weight loss, small bowel obstruction, and acute abdomen. Tumours were classified using the Kiel European Association for Haematopathology Geneva Workshop scheme and phenotyped on paraffin sections; 66% were B cells, and 34% were T cell. In all cases, the antibodies L26 and polyclonal CD3 reliably distinguished between B- and T-cell tumours. Of the B-cell lymphomas, 62% were diffuse high grade, 20% were low-grade lymphomas of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue, 11% had both low- and high-grade components, and 7% were other low-grade types. Of the T-cell lymphomas, 83% were high grade, and 49% were enteropathy associated. Most T-cell lymphomas were ulcerated plaques or strictures in the proximal small bowel; B-cell lymphomas tended to be annular or polypoid masses in the distal and terminal ileum. Survival data showed that low-grade B-cell lymphomas had the best outcome and T-cell lymphomas the worst. Adverse prognostic features included perforation, high-grade histology, multiple tumours and advanced stage.