© 2014, The Author(s).Current treatment modalities can cure up to 70–80 % of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma. Approximately, 20–30 % of patients require further treatment options. Brentuximab vedotin has been approved for the treatment of relapsed and refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. In the present study, we report the experience with brentuximab vedotin as single agent in 58 patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. The objective response rate was 63.5 % with 13 complete responders (26.5 %) among 49 patients evaluated at the early phase of treatment (2–5 cycles). Upon treatment prolongation (≥6 cycles), 37 patients achieved a final objective response rate of 32.4 % with 21.6 % of complete and 10.8 % of partial response. Overall survival at 12 months was 70.6 %, and progression-free survival at 12 months was 32.8 %. Median overall survival could not be reached and median progression-free survival was 7 months. While the median duration of response was 9 months in the whole cohort, it was 11.5 months in the complete responders. Complete response rates in patients treated with >3 chemotherapy regimens before brentuximab vedotin were significantly lower (p = 0.016). Fourteen patients were subsequently transplanted. In conclusion, brentuximab vedotin provided a bridge to transplantation in approximately one quarter of the patients. The declining response rates during the course of treatment suggest that transplantation should be implemented early during brentuximab vedotin treatment.