Cardio-pulmonary manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are well recognized in adults. We report the occurrence of clinically significant cardio-pulmonary disease in a cohort of predominantly Caucasian children with SLE. All children with SLE attending the Royal Liverpool Children's NHS Trust between 1995 and 2003 were reviewed. Of 29 children with SLE, 27 (93%) were Caucasian. Nine (31%) had cardio-respiratory complications: cardiac only (n = 1); respiratory only (n = 4); both cardiac and respiratory manifestations (n = 4). Median (range) duration of follow-up of affected children: four years (six months to 11 years). Six out of eight (75%) presented with respiratory complications before SLE was diagnosed. Three children had pericardial effusions, one requiring pericardiocentesis for tamponade. One had cardiac conduction defects and another significant pulmonary hypertension. Respiratory complications comprised: interstitial lung disease (n = 4), with two showing evidence of pulmonary fibrosis; pleural effusions (n = 2), pulmonary haemorrhage (n = 1) and lupus pneumonitis (n = 1). Disease course was complicated by CMV infection in one child. Lung biopsy was performed in five cases. Seven were treated with cyclophosphamide with significant improvement in symptoms/lung function. Of this predominantly Caucasian paediatric cohort with SLE, 31% had significant cardio-pulmonary involvement. All children with SLE should have regular monitoring of their cardio-respiratory status.