p73 is a candidate tumor suppressor and imprinted gene that shares significant homology with the p53 gene. It is located on 1p36, a region frequently deleted in neuroblastoma and other tumors. To investigate the pattern of inactivation of this gene in human lymphomas, we studied 59 tumors to identify abnormal methylation in exon 1 and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at this locus. p73 was methylated in 13/50 (26%) B cell lymphomas. There was no evidence of p73 methylation in the 9 T cell lymphomas analyzed. Burkitt's lymphomas showed the highest proportion of methylated cases (36%), although this alteration also affected other aggressive lymphomas such as diffuse large cell and some marginal zone lymphomas. LOH at the p73 locus was detected in 4/34 (11%) B and 1/9 (11%) T cell lymphomas. The p73 expression analysis showed absence or low level of p73 product in methylated lymphomas, whereas p73 was always detected in unmethylated tumors. We found monoallelic expression in normal peripheral blood samples, consistent with imprinting. None of the tumors showed LOH and methylation of the remaining allele simultaneously, suggesting that alteration of the expressed allele could lead to the total inactivation of the gene. Our results show that deletion or methylation of the p73 gene could be important mechanisms in suppressing p73 expression in B cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.