Until recently, primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) was associated with a uniformly dismal prognosis. It is now reasonable to anticipate long-term survival and possibly cure for a significant proportion of patients diagnosed with PCNSL. Accumulated data generated over the past 10 years has provided evidence that long-term progression-free survival (PFS) can reproducibly be attained in a significant fraction of PCNSL patients that receive dose-intensive chemotherapy consolidation, without whole brain radiotherapy. One consolidative regimen that has reproducibly demonstrated promise is the combination of infusional etoposide plus high-dose cytarabine (EA), administered in first complete remission after methotrexate, temozolomide and rituximab-based induction. Given evolving principles of management and the mounting evidence for reproducible improvements in survival rates in prospective clinical series, our goal in this review is to highlight and update principles in diagnosis, staging and management as well as to review data regarding the pathogenesis of central nervous system lymphomas, information that is likely to constitute a basis for the implementation of novel therapies that are requisite for further progress in this unique phenotype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.