We have explored the therapeutic potential of statins in patients with different inflammatory rheumatic diseases refractory to conventional therapy. We found that simvastatin (80mg o.d. for eight days) induced a rapid and significant reduction in proteinuria levels in three systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. A similar kind of therapy had a marked beneficial effect in a patient with Wegener's granulomatosis and a patient with erythema nodosum. On the other hand, five patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who received atorvastatin for eight days (20mg/day) showed reduction in C-reactive protein levels and a clinical improvement that was classified as an ACR20 response. Prior to the administration of statins, all these patients had received aggressive conventional therapy with no satisfactory response. A significant reduction in spontaneous apoptosis of peripheral blood lymphocytes and expression of CD69 and HLA-DR was observed in SLE patients after simvastatin therapy. These results prompted us to perform a pilot short-time comparative (simvastatin versus chloroquine) open clinical trial in 15 patients with RA who were receiving methotrexate as a single disease modifying antirheumatic drug with no satisfactory response. Most patients (9/10) who received simvastatin (40mg/day) showed an ACR50 or better response after eight weeks, whereas such a response was not observed in any patient (0/5) treated with chloroquine. Our preliminary results indicate that statins may be an important therapeutic tool for the treatment of inflammatory rheumatic diseases.