The cellular origin of H-RS cells has been questioned for a long time. Recently, using single cell amplification of Ig genes evidence was obtained that H-RS cells clonally arise from B-cells. Sequence analysis of rearranged Ig genes demonstrated that H-RS cells develop within the germinal centre. H-RS cells in classical HD grow despite loss of function of their rearranged Ig genes. In contrast, the mutation pattern of rearranged Ig genes in L & H cells of lymphocyte-predominant HD frequently shows ongoing mutations indicating that these cell are still antigen selected. These molecular differences show that LP HD genetically differs from classical HD. H-RS cells escape from apoptosis within the germinal centre. However, the events leading to malignant transformation are still unknown. The association between EBV and HD has been repeatedly described, but the occurrence of EBV negative cases is hard to explain just by loss of EBV. The analysis of chromosomal aberrations in H-RS cells did not result in the description of a specific ‘HD-gene’. Also the role of the T-lymphocytes surrounding the H-RS cells has remained an open question. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.