The aim of the current study was to analyze the role of traditional and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-related risk factors in the development of vertebral fractures. A cross-sectional study was performed in women with SLE attending a single center. A vertebral fracture was defined as a reduction of at least 20% of vertebral body height. Two hundred ten patients were studied, with median age of 43 years and median disease duration of 72 months. Osteopenia was present in 50.3% of patients and osteoporosis in 17.4%. At least one vertebral fracture was detected in 26.1%. Patients with vertebral fractures had a higher mean age (50 +/- 14 vs. 41 +/- 13.2 years, p = 0.001), disease damage (57.1% vs. 34.4%, p = 0.001), lower bone mineral density (BMD) at the total hip (0.902 +/- 0.160 vs. 982 +/- 0.137 g/cm(2), p = 0.002), and postmenopausal status (61.9% vs. 45.3%, p = 0.048). Stepwise logistic regression analysis revealed that only age (p = 0.001) and low BMD at the total hip (p = 0.007) remained as significant factors for the presence of vertebral fracture. The high prevalence of vertebral fractures in the relatively young population implies that more attention must be paid to detect and treat vertebral fractures.