Survivin is a member of the family of proteins known as 'inhibitors of apoptosis proteins'. Survivin has a role in cellular decisions concerning division and survival and is frequently expressed in neoplastic cells. The aim of the present study was to investigate immunohistochemically the expression of survivin in normal canine tissues and in canine lymphoma. A representative range of fetal and adult normal tissues as well as biopsy samples from dogs with lymphoma were assembled in tissue arrays. The lymphomas were classified according to the revised Kiel and to the Revised European American Lymphoma-World Health Organization (REAL-WHO) schemes. Polyclonal and monoclonal antisera cross-reactive with canine survivin identified cytoplasmic expression of the molecule in a broad range of normal canine cells. The same reagents demonstrated cytoplasmic labelling of more than 5% of cells in all 83 lymphoma samples tested with polyclonal antiserum and in 67 of 82 (82%) of samples tested with monoclonal antiserum. Survivin was expressed by a wide range of canine lymphoma subtypes, but the expression of this molecule in normal canine tissues must be considered if novel therapies targeting survivin are applied to the management of canine lymphoma.