PRDM1/Blimp-1 (in human and mouse, respectively) has a central role in determining and shaping the secretory arm of mature B-cell differentiation. In this study, a mouse monoclonal antibody that recognizes PRDM1 was used to detail its distribution in normal human lymphoid tissue and in lymphoid neoplasms that correspond to different stages of B-cell differentiation. PRDM1 was expressed in germinal centre blasts that co-express Pax5, CD19, CD20, and CD10, but not BCL6 or MTA-3. Pax5 was downregulated and full plasma cell morphology and phenotype were acquired by PRDM1+, nuclear cREL−, pre-plasma cells upon exit from the germinal centre. Activated extrafollicular B-cells (CD30+, Pax5+) were largely PRDM1−. PRDM1 was also absent in tissue histiocytes and the majority of resting T-cells and S-100+ antigen-presenting cells. PRDM1 and CD138 were expressed simultaneously in human lymphomas with plasma cell differentiation, but not in marginal zone lymphomas or chronic lymphocytic leukaemias. A minority of diffuse large B-cell lymphomas expressed PRDM1 and Hodgkin lymphomas were largely PRDM1−. Infiltrating T-cells in PRDM1− B-cell lymphomas expressed PRDM1. In conclusion, PRDM1 staining is a reliable and informative assay to define plasma cell commitment and differentiation in human normal and neoplastic B-cell lineages. Copyright © 2005 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.