Fetal CD34(+) CD38(+) cells have recently been found to persist in maternal peripheral blood for many years after pregnancy. CD34(+) CD38(+) cells are progenitor cells that can differentiate into mature immune-competent cells. We asked whether long-term fetal microchimerism occurs in T lymphocyte, B lymphocyte, monocyte, and natural-killer cell populations of previously pregnant women. We targeted women with sons and used polymerase chain reaction for a Y-chromosome-specific sequence to test DNA extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and from CD3, CD19, CD14, and CD56/16 sorted subsets. We also asked whether persistent microchimerism might contribute to subsequent autoimmune disease in the mother and included women with the autoimmune disease scleroderma. Scleroderma has a peak incidence in women after childbearing years and has clinical similarities to chronic graft-versus-host disease that occurs after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, known to involve chimerism. Sixty-eight parous women were studied for male DNA in PBMC and 20 for PBMC subsets. Microchimerism was found in PBMC from 33% (16 of 48) of healthy women and 60% (12 of 20) women with scleroderma, P =.046. Microchimerism was found in some women in CD3, CD19, CD14, and CD56/16 subsets including up to 38 years after pregnancy. Microchimerism in PBMC subsets was not appreciably more frequent in scleroderma patients than in healthy controls. Overall, microchimerism was found in CD3, CD19, and CD14 subsets in approximately one third of women and in CD56/16 in one half of women. HLA typing of mothers and sons indicated that HLA compatibility was not a requirement for persistent microchimerism in PBMC subsets. Fetal microchimerism in the face of HLA disparity implies that specific maternal immunoregulatory pathways exist that permit persistence but prevent effector function of these cells in normal women. Although microchimerism in PBMC was more frequent in women with scleroderma than healthy controls additional studies will be necessary to determine whether microchimerism plays a role in the pathogenesis of this or other autoimmune diseases.