Around 30–50% of classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) cases in immunocompetent individuals from industrialized countries are associated with the B-lymphotropic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Although natural killer (NK) cells exhibit anti-viral and anti-tumoral functions, virtually nothing is known about quantitative and qualitative differences in NK cells in patients with EBV+ cHL vs. EBV- cHL. Here, we prospectively investigated 36 cHL patients without known immune suppression or overt immunodeficiency at diagnosis. All 10 EBV+ cHL patients and 25 out 26 EBV- cHL were seropositive for EBV antibodies, and EBV+ cHL patients presented with higher plasma EBV DNA levels compared to EBV- cHL patients. We show that the CD56dim CD16+ NK cell subset was decreased in frequency in EBV+ cHL patients compared to EBV- cHL patients. This quantitative deficiency translates into an impaired CD56dim NK cell mediated degranulation toward rituximab-coated HLA class 1 negative lymphoblastoid cells in EBV+ compared to EBV- cHL patients. We finally observed a trend to a decrease in the rituximab-associated degranulation and ADCC of in vitro expanded NK cells of EBV+ cHL compared to healthy controls. Our findings may impact on the design of adjunctive treatment targeting antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity in EBV+ cHL.