There is accumulating evidence that mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), when combined with corticosteroid, is an effective induction treatment for severe proliferative lupus nephritis and is associated with fewer adverse effects compared to cyclophosphamide (CTX), but the quality of life (QOL) associated with these regimens as perceived by the patient has not been compared. This study included patients who had experienced both treatment regimens, for distinct episodes of diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis. QOL parameters during the first six months of each treatment were assessed through SF36 and WHOQOL questionnaires. Twelve patients and 24 episodes of severe lupus nephritis were studied. CTX-treated and MMF-treated episodes showed comparable baseline characteristics and response rate, with complete remission occurring in 83.3%. MMF treatment was associated with higher numerical scores for all domains across both QOL instruments than CTX. MMF treatment was associated with significantly less fatigue, less impediment of physical and social functioning, and better psychological well being compared to CTX. When each patient served as her/his own control, most patients ascribed higher QOL domain scores to the MMF-treated episode. Seventy-five percent of patients found MMF treatment more acceptable and preferred when compared with CTX, and the complications that most concerned them included Cushingoid features, alopecia, menstrual disturbance and infections. These data showed that MMF-based induction immunosuppression for severe lupus nephritis was associated with better QOL than CTX as perceived by patients, which was most likely attributed to the reduced side-effects during MMF treatment.