Summary. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the outcome of high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) followed by autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (ASCT) for patients with relapsed T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. We reviewed 36 patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTL) who underwent ASCT between January 1987 and June 2001. Patients had chemosensitive disease, and received high-dose melphalan and etoposide with or without total body irradiation supported by unpurged autologous stem cells. Comparisons were made with 97 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBL) patients. PTL patients had a median age of 46 years (19–62 years). Twenty-nine had relapsed and seven had primary refractory disease. DLBL patients were statistically similar in baseline characteristics. Of patients with PTL, six (17%) died of treatment-related complications and 14 (39%) were in remission with a median follow-up of 42 months (range 6–116 months). Three-year overall survival and event-free survival (EFS) were 48% and 37%, respectively, for PTL, compared with 53% and 42% for DLBL (P = 0·41 and 0·29 respectively). There was no significant prognostic variable found by univariate analysis for the PTL cohort. Major PTL subtypes were analysed for outcomes. The 20 patients with PTL, not otherwise specified (PTL-NOS), had an inferior EFS compared with DLBL patients (23%, P = 0·028). In contrast, the nine patients with anaplastic large T/null cell lymphoma had a non-significant trend for improved EFS (67%, P = 0·41). While ASCT in patients with relapsed or primary refractory PTL results in long-term remission rates comparable to DLBL patients, those with PTL-NOS do significantly worse.