BACKGROUND The usefulness of fine needle aspiration technique for cytology diagnosis of lymph node lesions has been a subject of controversy over years. OBJECTIVE This study aims to determine the accuracy of this technique in the diagnosis of peripheral lymph node lesions, in our center, using histology diagnosis as a gold standard. METHODS The cytopathological diagnosis of 49 cases of peripheral lymph node lesions seen in the Morbid Anatomy Department of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos from Jan. 2000 to December 2009 were compared with their corresponding histological diagnosis. Lymph node lesions were categorized into inflammatory, Hodgkin's lymphoma, Non Hodgkin's lymphoma and metastatic. The sensitivity, specificity and positive as well as the negative predictive values of the technique were determined. RESULTS The overall sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values were 79.6%, 95.9.0%, 79.6% and 95.9% respectively. For non neoplastic lesions, FNAC has a high false negative report. For primary lymphoid neoplasm, the sensitivity, specificity and both predictive values were above 80% while the procedure produced sensitivity and specificity values of 100 and 97.1 percent respectively in the diagnosis of metastatic lesions. CONCLUSION Despite the pitfalls and limitations of the procedure, the study demonstrated that fine-needle aspiration is a valuable tool for the evaluation of peripheral adenopathy. But FNAC technique for cytological diagnosis of lymphoid lesions using H and E and Giemsa stains alone cannot be used as the sole diagnosis of lymphoid enlargements. Its accuracy can be improved with the availability immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry.