Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that many people know little about. Lupus can affect the skin, joints, kidney, heart, lungs, nervous system, blood and other organs or systems. For most people it is a relatively mild disease; for others it causes life-threatening problems. Social workers and related health professionals must learn to recognize how lupus affects individuals and their families' physical, psychological and social functioning in order to develop effective interventions for their patients. This article provides basic medical information about lupus and discusses strategies to help facilitate understanding, coping and management of this disease.