Autoantibodies reactive with several cellular antigens are present in the sera of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Polypeptides within the Ro-RNP complex and the snRNP complex are often targeted by these autoantibodies. One of the mechanisms responsible for their evolution is that of epitope spreading. Experimental animal model systems provide evidence for this. This review discusses the animal model systems of epitope spreading within these ribonucleoprotein antigens, the mechanisms of epitope spreading, and its relevance for disease pathogenesis.