Chronic infections may predispose to malignant growth. Recently, serological markers of chronic Chlamydia pneumoniae infection have been associated with lung cancer. Our aim was to study the possible association between chronic chlamydial infections and malignant lymphomas. The present case-control study involved 72 patients with lymphoma (31 females and 41 males) and matched controls. 53 patients had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and 19 had Hodgkin's disease. The sera, collected at the time of diagnosis, were tested for IgG antibodies and immune complexes to C. pneumoniae and C. trachomatis by a microimmunofluorescence method and ELISA and for IgG antibodies and immune complexes to Helicobacter pylori by ELISA. The serological markers suggesting chronic chlamydial infection were associated with malignant lymphoma. The association was most evident for the presence of C. pneumoniae-specific immune complexes in NHL (OR = 7.3, 95% CI 2.2-25) and appeared to be limited to men. No association between H. pylori antibodies or immune complexes and malignant lymphomas could be demonstrated. Our study provides seroepidemiological evidence of an association between chronic chlamydial infections and lymphomas.