The 150-kd transmembrane protein CD100 is the first semaphorin protein shown to be expressed in lymphoid tissue. CD100 is present in the interfollicular T cell zones and is also expressed by B cells in the germinal centers of secondary lymphoid follicles, but not in the mantle zones. The CD100 molecule was recently cloned, and CD100 transfectants were shown to induce homotypic aggregation of human B cells and improve their viability in vitro, suggesting that CD100 may play a role in lymphocyte aggregation and germinal center formation. We studied the expression of CD100 in 138 clinical cases representing a range of lymphoproliferative disorders, to determine whether this molecule is expressed in these neoplastic processes. In general, we found CD100 expression to be common in peripheral T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas but rare in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. CD100 expression was not detectable in low-grade B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, including cases of small lymphocytic lymphoma (18 cases), marginal zone lymphoma (10 cases), and mantle cell lymphoma (10 cases), as might be expected for these neoplasms that are not of follicular center cell origin. Surprisingly, we found that the vast majority of follicular lymphomas (37 of 40 cases) as well as diffuse large-cell lymphomas of B-cell type (35 cases) did not express CD100. The neoplastic cells in 3 of 11 cases of predominantly large-cell-type follicular lymphoma did express CD100. In contrast, all five cases of high-grade, small non-cleaved (Burkitt-like) B-cell lymphoma were immunoreactive for CD100 expression, as were 18 of 20 cases (90%) of malignant T cell neoplasms. Northern blot analysis of CD100 expression correlated with immunohistochemical findings. Absence of expression of CD100 by neoplastic follicular center B cells is a common feature in follicular lymphomas, but expression of CD100 by T cells is maintained in T-cell lymphoproliferative disorders.