In a search for genes specifically expressed in Reed–Sternberg (RS) cells of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), we applied the serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) technique on the HL-derived cell line DEV. Genes highly expressed in DEV were subjected to an RT-PCR analysis to confirm the SAGE results. For one of the genes, a high expression was observed in DEV and other HL-derived cell lines but not in non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)–derived cell lines and normal controls, suggesting an HL-specific expression. This gene corresponds to the human BIC gene, a member of the noncoding mRNA-like molecules. RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) indicated an exclusive nucleolar localization of BIC transcripts in all RS cells in 91% of HL cases, including nodular lymphocyte predominance (NLP) HL and classical HL. Analyses of normal human tissues revealed BIC transcripts in only a small number of CD20-positive B-cells in lymph node and tonsil tissue, albeit at a much lower level compared to that of RS cells. BIC RT-PCR in the Burkitt lymphoma–derived cell line Ramos demonstrated a significant up-regulation upon cross-linking of the B-cell receptor (BcR). IκBα-mediated blocking of NF-κB translocation in Ramos did not effect the up-regulation of BIC expression upon BcR triggering, suggesting that activation of NF-κB is not involved in regulation of BIC expression. In summary, our data show that expression of BIC is specific for RS cells of HL. In normal tissue, BIC is expressed weakly in a minority of germinal center B cells. Expression of BIC can be modified/influenced by BcR triggering, indicating that BIC might play a role in the selection of B cells. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.