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Optimal therapeutic management of intravascular lymphoma (IVL) lacks precise guidelines.The clinico-pathological features of 38 HIV-negative patients with IVL were reviewed to define efficacy of chemotherapy in these malignancies. Clinical characteristics of 22 patients treated with chemotherapy and of 16 untreated patients were compared in order to understand better the impact and causes of potential patient selection.Median age was 70 years (range 34–90), with a male/female ratio of 0.9; 23 (61%) patients had Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (ECOG-PS) >1; 21 (55%) had systemic symptoms. Cutaneous lesions and anemia were significantly more common among patients treated with chemotherapy; central nervous system (CNS) and renal involvement were significantly more common among untreated patients. Chemotherapy was associated with a response rate of 59% and a 3-year overall survival of 33 ± 11%. Five of six patients with CNS involvement received chemotherapy: four of them died early; only one patient, treated with adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, methotrexate, bleomycin and prednisolone (MACOP-B) followed by high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT), was alive at 19 months. High-dose chemotherapy supported by ASCT was indicated at diagnosis in another patient (43 years of age, stage I), who was alive at 71 months, and at relapse after cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone (CHOP) in two patients who died early after transplantation. PS ≤1, disease limited to the skin, stage I, and use of chemotherapy were independently associated with better outcome.Anthracycline-based chemotherapy is the standard treatment for IVL. However, survival is disappointing, with a relevant impact of diagnostic delay and lethal complications. More intensive combinations, containing drugs with higher CNS bioavailability, are needed in cases with brain involvement, and the role of high-dose chemotherapy supported by ASCT should be further investigated in younger patients with unfavorable features.