This review covers major advances in clinical issues related to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) published between 1995 and 2000. The classification criteria for both SLE and antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) have been updated, and up to 19 different subsets of neuropsychiatric lupus have been defined. New epidemiological data show that the incidence of new cases and the survival of patients with SLE are both increasing. Several randomised controlled trials have defined the role of cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, antimalarials, and hormonal treatment in the management of SLE. New data are available for drugs such as ciclosporin and thalidomide. Finally, several new treatments for severe refractory cases, such as mycophenolate mofetil and stem-cell transplantation, are being increasingly used. New data also refer to management of thrombosis in APS and high-risk pregnancies in women with SLE or APS.