A case of HIV-associated cardiac non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is described, and the epidemiologic and clinicopathologic features of 21 cases previously reported in the literature are analyzed. All patients were homosexual males, and the cardiac NHL was the first acquired immune deficiency syndrome-defining condition in the majority. Patients were referred with nonspecific clinical findings including dyspnea and tachycardia, but rapid progression of cardiac dysfunction was frequent after symptoms appeared. Echocardiography constitutes the most useful noninvasive procedure in the diagnosis of cardiac NHL. Most of the patients had disseminated diseased at initial presentation; pathologically, the lymphomas were of B lymphocyte origin and of high-grade subtypes. Prognosis of HIV-associated cardiac NHL is generally poor, although clinical remission has been observed with combination chemotherapy. Cardiac lymphomas in HIV-associated patients are typically high-grade and often disseminate early. Although the prognosis is poor, patients in whom dissemination has not occurred could have longer survival under systemic chemotherapy.