The role of alcohol intake in the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is still largely unclear. To summarize the evidence on the issue, we carried out a meta-analysis of the available studies. We identified eight case–control and two cohort studies, including a total of 1488 cases of HL. We derived meta-analytic estimates using random-effects models, taking into account the correlation between estimates, and carried out a dose–risk analysis using nonlinear random-effects metaregression models. Compared with nondrinkers, the relative risk for alcohol consumers was 0.70 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.60–0.81] overall, 0.66 (95% CI, 0.56–0.78) among case–control, and 0.92 (95% CI, 0.63–1.33) among cohort studies. Compared with nondrinkers, the pooled relative risks were 0.71 (95% CI, 0.57–0.89) for light (i.e. ≤1 drink/day) and 0.73 (95% CI, 0.60–0.87) for moderate-to-heavy (i.e. >1 drink/day) alcohol drinking. This meta-analysis suggests a favourable effect of alcohol on HL, in the absence, however, of a dose–risk relationship. The inverse association was restricted to – or greater in – case–control as compared with cohort studies. This indicates caution in the interpretation of results.