At the iwNHL 2014, Prof Michael Pfreundschuh (Saarland University Medical School, Homburg, Germany), Dr Rich Fisher (Fox Chase Cancer Center, Pennsylvania, USA) and Prof Christian Gisselbrecht (Hôpital Saint-Louis, Paris, France) discuss the biology and management of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Dr Fisher describes the difficulties in defining and managing patients who are not cured by standard therapy. The classification of DLBCLs is an important consideration for research studies and clinical management. Double-hit lymphomas have poor prognosis and management options are discussed. Prof Gisselbrecht describes important recent advances in treatment options for different DLBCL subtypes. Future research directions and their impact on patients are also examined.