Fewer than 200 cases of primary adrenal lymphoma (PAL) have been reported. We have systematically reviewed all 187 cases of PAL reported in the English literature until June 2013, from which we drew the following conclusions: PAL is typically a highly symptomatic and aggressive, metabolically hyperactive, hypovascular, hypoechoic (and heterogeneous on ultrasound), hypodense (with slight to moderate enhancement on computed tomography), high-grade lymphoma, primarily affecting elderly males and presenting with large bilateral adrenal masses. Most cases have adrenal insufficiency, B-symptoms, and elevated lactate dehydrogenase. Hepatosplenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, concurrent or prior immune dysregulation, and bone marrow involvement are uncommon. Epstein-Barr virus positivity is observed in more than half of cases and the disease is disseminated at presentation in 18 % of cases. The two most common WHO 2008-defined PAL subtypes are diffuse large B cell lymphoma (78 %) and peripheral T cell lymphoma (7 %). The prognosis of PAL has improved with the advent of rituximab-containing chemotherapeutic regimens. According to our results, administration of chemotherapy and adrenal insufficiency are significant independent predictors of prognosis.