Macrophages are known to play a key role during inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Inflammatory macrophages have increased expression of CD64, the high-affinity receptor for IgG. Targeting this receptor through a CD64-directed immunotoxin, composed of an Ab against CD64 and Ricin A, results in effective killing of inflammatory macrophages. In this study, we show elevated levels of CD64 on synovial macrophages in both synovial lining and synovial fluid in RA patients. The CD64-directed immunotoxin efficiently eliminates activated synovial macrophages in vitro, while leaving quiescent, low CD64-expressing macrophages unaffected. To examine whether killing of CD64 macrophages results in therapeutic effects in vivo, we established an adjuvant arthritis (AA) model in newly generated human CD64 (hCD64) transgenic rats. We demonstrate that hCD64 regulation in this transgenic rat model is similar as in humans. After AA induction, treatment with CD64-directed immunotoxin results in significant inhibition of disease activity. There is a direct correlation between immunotoxin treatment and decreased macrophage numbers, followed by diminished inflammation and bone erosion in paws of these hCD64 transgenic rats. These data support synovial macrophages to play a crucial role in joint inflammation in AA in rats and in human RA. Selective elimination of inflammatory macrophages through a CD64-directed immunotoxin may provide a novel approach for treatment of RA.