Familial Hodgkin's disease (FHD) is estimated to represent approximately 4.5% of all cases of Hodgkin's disease (HD). Shared environmental factors, such as Epstein-Barr virus and other viral agents, and genetic determinants have all been proposed to explain familial aggregation of HD. In order to compare the characteristic features of FHD with those of the much more common sporadic form, we reviewed 28 articles on FHD, published between 1972 and 1995, and analyzed in further detail data from 18 papers, reporting on a total of 328 patients. The male-to-female ratio of the FHD population examined was 1.5, similar to that reported for sporadic HD, and lower than the one suggested for FHD by some authors. On the other hand, a significant difference was found between sporadic and familial HD according to age at diagnosis; that is, only one major peak between 15 and 34 years was present in the group of patients with FHD. Further investigation of FHD in young adulthood may provide insight into the hypothesis of a genetic or infectious etiology of the disease.