Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with a complex pathogenesis. Published data have revealed that serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines are increased in SLE patients. The aim of our study was to evaluate whether monotherapy with chloroquine phosphate affects IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-18 and TNF-alpha serum levels in SLE patients. The study group consisted of 25 SLE patients with mild or moderate disease activity and 25 age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects. In SLE patients the cytokine levels were measured just before and three months after starting chloroquine treatment at a dose of 125 mg twice daily. Although the majority of SLE patients had a low systemic lupus activity measure (SLAM) index, the levels of IL-6, IL-18 and TNF-alpha were significantly higher than in the control group. After three-months of chloroquine therapy the mean level of IL-6, IL-18 and TNF-alpha decreased significantly. Minimal erythema doses (MEDs) were significantly increased in SLE patients after three months of chloroquine therapy. The results indicate that chloroquine treatment lowers some proinflammatory cytokines and may provide a photoprotective effect.