Targeting the proteasome system with bortezomib (BTZ) results in anti-tumour activity and potentiates the effects of chemotherapy/biological agents in multiple myeloma and B-cell lymphoma. Carfilzomib (CFZ) is a more selective proteasome inhibitor that is structurally distinct from BTZ. In an attempt to characterize its biological activity, we evaluated CFZ in several lymphoma pre-clinical models. Rituximab-sensitive cell lines (RSCL), rituximab-resistant cell lines (RRCL), and primary tumour cells derived from B-cell lymphoma patients were exposed to CFZ or BTZ. Cell viability and changes in cell cycle were determined. Western blots were performed to detect PARP-cleavage and/or changes in Bcl-2 (BCL2) family members. CFZ was 10 times more active than BTZ and exhibited dose- and time-dependent cytotoxicity. CFZ exposure induced apoptosis by upregulation of Bak (BAK1) and subsequent PARP cleavage in RSCL and RRCL; it was also partially caspase-dependent. CFZ induced G2/M phase cell cycle arrest in RSCL. CFZ demonstrated the ability to overcome resistance to chemotherapy in RRCL and potentiated the anti-tumour activity of chemotherapy agents. Our data suggest that CFZ is able to overcome resistance to chemotherapeutic agents, upregulate pro-apoptotic proteins to promote apoptosis, and induce G2/M cell cycle arrest in lymphoma cells. Our pre-clinical data supports future clinical evaluation of CFZ in B-cell lymphoma.