Three subtypes of small lymphocytic lymphoma were studied, namely B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and follicle center lymphoma (FCL). Agreement between tissue diagnosis, based on the proposal for a revised European-American classification of lymphoid neoplasms from the International Lymphoma Study Group, and the cytomorphological diagnosis on peripheral blood and/or bone marrow smears, using the proposals for the classification of chronic (mature) B and T lymphoid leukemias of the French-American-British Cooperative Group, was studied. Full agreement was found in 90% of the CLL and 82% of the FCL cases. In MCL cases, agreement was 65% including all cases classified as intermediate/mantle zone lymphoma according to FAB criteria. The incidence of bone marrow involvement detection in trephines compared to smears was equal in CLL (both 100%) and slightly higher in MCL (56 vs 48.5%); in FCL, however, trephine biopsies provided more reliable material (71 vs 35%).