There is a lack of contemporary prospective data examining the adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine (ABVD) and Stanford V (SV; doxorubicin, vinblastine, mechlorethamine, vincristine, bleomycin, etoposide, prednisone) regimens in older Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) patients. Forty-four advanced-stage, older HL patients (aged ≥60 years) were treated on the randomized study, E2496. Toxicities were mostly similar between chemotherapy regimens, although 24% of older patients developed bleomycin lung toxicity (BLT), which occurred mainly with ABVD (91%). Further, the BLT-related mortality rate was 18%. The overall treatment-related mortality for older HL patients was 9% vs. 0·3% for patients aged <60 years (P < 0·001). Among older patients, there were no survival differences between ABVD and SV. According to age, outcomes were significantly inferior for older versus younger patients (5-year failure-free survival: 48% vs. 74%, respectively, P = 0·002; 5-year overall survival: 58% and 90%, respectively, P < 0·0001), although time-to-progression (TTP) was not significantly different (5-year TTP: 68% vs. 78%, respectively, P = 0·37). Furthermore, considering progression and death without progression as competing risks, the risk of progression was not different between older and younger HL patients (5 years: 30% and 23%, respectively, P = 0·30); however, the incidence of death without progression was significantly increased for older HL patients (22% vs. 9%, respectively, P < 0·0001). Altogether, the marked HL age-dependent survival differences appeared attributable primarily to non-HL events.