C-reactive protein (CRP) is the prototypical acute phase serum protein, rising rapidly in response to inflammation. CRP binds to phosphocholine (PC) and related molecules on microorganisms and plays an important role in host defense. However, a more important role may be the binding of CRP to PC in damaged membranes. CRP increases clearance of apoptotic cells, binds to nuclear antigens and by masking autoantigens from the immune system or enhancing their clearance, CRP may prevent autoimmunity. CRP binds to both the stimulatory receptors, FcgammaRI and FcgammaRIIa, increasing phagocytosis and the release of inflammatory cytokines; and to the inhibitory receptor, FcgammaRIIb, blocking activating signals. We have shown that, in two animal models of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the (NZB x NZW)F1 mouse and the MRL/lpr mouse, a single injection of CRP before onset of proteinuria delayed disease development and late treatment reversed proteinuria. Thus, in these models, CRP plays an anti-inflammatory role.