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Large multinucleated Reed-Sternberg cells (RS) and large mononucleated Hodgkin cells (H) are traditionally considered to be the neoplastic population in classical Hodgkin lymphoma, (cHL) and postulated to promote the disease. However, the contribution of these larger cells to the progression of cHL remains debatable. We used established cHL cell lines and cHL cellular fractions composed of small mononucleated cells only or enriched in large RS/H cells to investigate RS/H cell origin and to characterize the cells which they derive from. We confirm that the small mononucleated cells give rise to RS/H cells, and we show that the latter proliferate significantly more slowly than the small cells. By using live-cell imaging, we demonstrate that binucleated RS cells are generated by failure of abscission when a few small cells attempt to divide. Finally, our results reveal that the small mononucleated cells are chromosomally unstable, but this is unlikely to be related to a malfunctioning chromosomal passenger protein complex. We propose that the small mononucleated cells, rather than the RS/H cells, are the main drivers of cHL.