Classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) is characterized by a minority of tumor cells derived from germinal center B-cells and a vast majority of non-malignant reactive cells. The tumor cells show a loss of B-cell phenotype including lack of the B-cell receptor, which makes the tumor cells vulnerable to apoptosis. To overcome this threat, tumor cells and their precursors depend on anti-apoptotic and growth stimulating factors that are obtained via triggering of multiple membrane receptors. In addition, tumor cells shape the environment by producing a wide variety of chemokines and cytokines. These factors alter the composition of the microenvironment and modulate the nature and effectiveness of the infiltrating cells. The attracted cells enhance the pro-survival and growth stimulating signals for the tumor cells. To escape from an effective anti-tumor response tumor cells avoid recognition by T and NI( cells, by downregulation of HLA molecules and modulating NK and T-cell receptors. In addition, the tumor cells produce immune suppressive cytokines that inhibit cytotoxic responses. In this review the relevance of the microenvironment in the pathogenesis of cHL will be discussed. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.