Normal immunological memory is thought to be underpinned by T lymphocytes. However, in rheumatoid arthritis there are indications that T-lymphocyte control has been subverted by self-perpetuating B lymphocytes. Potential mechanisms in other autoimmune states are less clear, but a number of observations suggest that misappropriation of immunological memory by B lymphocytes may be a common feature of human autoantibody-associated disease. Put simply, autoantibodies drive their own production. If so, the availability of safe B-lymphocyte-depleting agents provides a potential means for reversal of autoimmunity.