The primary purpose of this study was to examine differences in quality of life (QoL) between non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) survivors meeting and not meeting public health exercise guidelines. A secondary purpose was to examine exercise behavior changes across three distinct cancer-related time periods (i.e. prediagnosis, on treatment and off treatment). Using a retrospective survey design, 438 NHL survivors residing in Alberta, Canada completed a mailed questionnaire that assessed self-reported exercise prediagnosis, on treatment and off treatment, and current QoL. Descriptive analyses indicated that 33.8, 6.5 and 23.7% of NHL survivors met public health exercise guidelines during prediagnosis, on treatment, and off treatment time periods, respectively. Multivariate analyses of variance indicated that NHL survivors meeting public health exercise guidelines during postdiagnosis time periods had higher current QoL scores than NHL survivors not meeting guidelines. QoL difference scores between the two groups met proposed standards for clinically important differences. Multivariate analyses also indicated significant differences in exercise behavior across the three cancer-related time periods (all p's<0.01). These analyses were unchanged after statistically controlling for important medical and demographic variables. The results of this study provide evidence that NHL survivors meeting public health exercise guidelines on and off treatment reported higher current QoL than those survivors not meeting guidelines. These findings corroborate research examining exercise behavior in other cancer survivor groups and provide preliminary data to support a randomized controlled trial on exercise and QoL in this population. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.