Epidemiologic studies suggest a strong genetic component for susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). To investigate the genetic mechanism of pathogenesis of SLE, we studied the difference in gene expression of peripheral blood cells between 10 SLE patients and 18 healthy controls using oligonucleotide microarray. When gene expression for patients was compared to the mean of normal controls, among the 3002 target genes, 61 genes were identified with greater than a two-fold change difference in expression level. Of these genes, 24 were upregulated and 37 downregulated in at least half of the patients. By the Welch's ANOVA/Welch's t-test, all these 61 genes were significantly different (P<0.05) between SLE patients and normal controls. Among these genes with differential expression, IFN-omega and Ly6E (TSA-1/Sca-2) may play an important role in the mechanism of SLE pathogenesis. TSA-1 antigens may represent an important alternative pathway for T-cell activation that may be involved in IFN-mediated immunomodulation. Hierarchical clustering showed that patient samples were clearly separated from controls based on their gene expression profile. These results demonstrate that high-density oligonucleotide microarray has the potential to explore the mechanism of pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus.