OBJECTIVE To seek the optimum treatment for patients with stage II non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL). METHODS 268 patients with stage II NHL, treated from January 1987 to December 1993, received radiation alone (R-50), radiation plus chemotherapy (R + C - 73), chemotherapy followed by radiation then by chemotherapy (C + R + C - 72), chemotherapy plus radiation (C + R - 61) or chemotherapy alone (C-12). A total of 206 patients was treated with combined treatment. RESULTS The 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-year survival rates were 95.1%, 87.8%, 87.8%, 85.4%, 82.9%, 53.6% in C + R + C group for patients with stage II high grade NHL, which were much better than those in the R group, R + C group and C + R group (P < 0.01). For patients with stage II intermediate grade NHL, the 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-year survival rates were 89.3%, 75.0%, 67.8%, 60.6%, 57.1%, 46.4% in the C + R + C group, which were better than those in the R group, R + C group and C + R group (P > 0.05). However, for patients with low grade NHL, the survival rates were similar both in the R group and the combination groups. CONCLUSION For patients with stage II intermediate and high grade NHL, combination therapy of C + R + C is recommended. Radiation alone can only be used for patients with stage II low grade NHL.