Tumours lacking argininosuccinate synthetase-1 (ASS1) are auxotrophic for arginine and sensitive to amino-acid deprivation. Here, we investigated the role of ASS1 as a biomarker of response to the arginine-lowering agent, pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG20), in lymphoid malignancies. Although ASS1 protein was largely undetectable in normal and malignant lymphoid tissues, frequent hypermethylation of the ASS1 promoter was observed specifically in the latter. A good correlation was observed between ASS1 methylation, low ASS1 mRNA, absence of ASS1 protein expression and sensitivity to ADI-PEG20 in malignant lymphoid cell lines. We confirmed that the demethylating agent 5-Aza-dC reactivated ASS1 expression and rescued lymphoma cell lines from ADI-PEG20 cytotoxicity. ASS1-methylated cell lines exhibited autophagy and caspase-dependent apoptosis following treatment with ADI-PEG20. In addition, the autophagy inhibitor chloroquine triggered an accumulation of light chain 3-II protein and potentiated the apoptotic effect of ADI-PEG20 in malignant lymphoid cells and patient-derived tumour cells. Finally, a patient with an ASS1-methylated cutaneous T-cell lymphoma responded to compassionate-use ADI-PEG20. In summary, ASS1 promoter methylation contributes to arginine auxotrophy and represents a novel biomarker for evaluating the efficacy of arginine deprivation in patients with lymphoma.