Recent work identified Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg (H/RS) cells in classical Hodgkin's disease (cHD) as clonal progeny of mature B cells. Therefore, it is generally assumed that cHD homogenously represents a B cell lymphoma. In a subset of cHD, however, H/RS cells expressing T cell-associated proteins may be candidates for alternative lineage derivation. Single H/RS cells with cytotoxic T cell phenotype were micromanipulated from three cases of cHD and analyzed by single cell polymerase chain reaction for immunoglobulin heavy (IgH) and light chain (IgL) gene rearrangements, T cell receptor (TCR)-beta gene rearrangements, and germline configuration of the IgH and TCR-beta loci. H/RS cells from two cases of cHD harbored clonal, somatically mutated Ig gene rearrangements, whereas TCR-beta loci were in germline configuration. In contrast, H/RS cells from an additional case harbored clonal TCR-beta variable/diversity/joining (VDJ) and DJ gene rearrangements, whereas the IgH locus was in germline configuration on both alleles. Thus, in two cases of cHD with H/RS cells expressing cytotoxic T cell molecules, the tumor cells are derived from mature B cells that aberrantly express T cell markers. In a third case, however, H/RS cells were derived from a T cell, demonstrating that cHD can also occur as a T cell lymphoma.