In a 30-year-old male patient systemic lupus erythematosus was diagnosed based on the presence of 8 out of 11 ARA criteria. Disease onset was acute and included renal function impairment with biopsy-proven lupus nephritis (WHO class IV) requiring renal replacement therapy. Although conventional immunosuppressive therapy regimens proved effective in controlling disease activity, all of the administered drugs were accompanied by serious side effects: bilateral femur head necrosis with corticosteroids, allergic skin reaction in response to azathioprine, nephrotoxicity with cyclosporine, nausea and abdominal pain with mycophenolate mofetil and life-threatening septicemia with cyclophosphamide treatment. In search for alternative treatment options, tacrolimus (FK506, trough serum levels 3-6 ng/ml) was started. FK506 was well-tolerated and lupus activity completely resolved within 7 months after initiation of therapy. During 36 months of follow-up no arthritic complaints occurred and renal function stabilized at a serum creatinine of 2.1 mg/dl with negative anti-ds-DNA antibodies and ANA titers. In conclusion, FK506 may be considered as alternative immunosuppressive for maintenance treatment in patients with severe lupus erythematosus and side effects to conventional regimens.