Anti-phospholipid antibodies (APA) as markers or mediators of thrombosis in lupus could be of pathogenetic significance in nephritis, since glomerular capillary thrombi are an indicator of subsequent renal dysfunction. Isotype specific APA antibodies were measured, using cardiolipin as the antigen, in 76 patients with lupus nephritis. Twenty-nine percent of the patients had elevated IgG APA. Overall, 43% of patients showed raised levels of at least one isotype. In general, APA had specificity for anionic phospholipids. In vitro lupus anticoagulant activity was associated with all three isotypes of APA, but only the IgM isotype correlated with the biological false positive test for syphilis. APA were not associated with thromboses or neurological involvement, and only the IgA isotype correlated with thrombocytopenia. We confirmed an association between the presence of intraglomerular thrombi and serum IgG APA. However, we found no association between APA and renal histological pattern, or long-term renal function. Our data, therefore, do not support a major pathogenetic role for APA in the nephritis of lupus in treated patients.