In aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), constitutive apoptosis of a proportion of the tumor cell population can promote net tumor growth. This is associated with the accumulation of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) that clear apoptotic cells and exhibit pro-oncogenic transcriptional activation profiles characteristic of reparatory, anti-inflammatory and angiogenic programs. Here we consider further the activation status of these TAMs. We compare their transcriptomic profile with that of a range of other macrophage types from various tissues noting especially their expression of classically activated (IFN- 3 and LPS) gene clusters-typically antitumor-in addition to their previously described protumor phenotype. To understand the impact of apoptotic cells on the macrophage activation state, we cocultured apoptotic lymphoma cells with classically activated macrophages (M (IFN- 3/LPS), also known as M1, macrophages). Although untreated and M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages were able to bind apoptotic lymphoma cells equally well, M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages displayed enhanced ability to phagocytose them. We found that direct exposure of M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages to apoptotic lymphoma cells caused switching towards a protumor activation state (often referred to as M2-like) with concomitant inhibition of antitumor activity that was a characteristic feature of M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages. Indeed, M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages exposed to apoptotic lymphoma cells displayed increased lymphoma growth-promoting activities. Antilymphoma activity by M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages was mediated, in part, by galectin-3, a pleiotropic glycoprotein involved in apoptotic cell clearance that is strongly expressed by lymphoma TAMs but not lymphoma cells. Intriguingly, aggressive lymphoma growth was markedly impaired in mice deficient in galectin-3, suggesting either that host galectin-3-mediated antilymphoma activity is required to sustain net tumor growth or that additional functions of galectin-3 drive key oncogenic mechanisms in NHL. These findings have important implications for anticancer therapeutic approaches aimed at polarizing macrophages towards an antitumor state and identify galectin-3 as a potentially important novel target in aggressive NHL.