There is increasing laboratory and epidemiologic evidence relating exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) with autoimmune disease including scleroderma and lupus. New Zealand Black/New Zealand White (NZBWF1) and B6C3F1 mice were exposed to TCE (0, 1, 400 or 14,000 ppb) via drinking water for 27 or 30 weeks, respectively. NZBWF1 mice spontaneously develop autoimmune disease while B6C3F1 mice, a standard strain used in immunotoxicology testing, are not genetically prone to develop autoimmune disease. During the TCE exposure period, serum levels of total IgG, and autoantibodies (anti-ssDNA, -dsDNA, and -glomerular antigen [GA]) were monitored. At the termination of the study, renal pathology, natural killer (NK) cell activity, total IgG levels, autoantibody production, T-cell activation, and lymphocytic proliferative responses were evaluated. TCE did not alter NK cell activity, or T- and B-cell proliferation in either strain. Numbers of activated T-cells (CD4+/CD44+) were increased in the B6C3F1 mice but not in the NZBWF1 mice. Renal pathology, as indicated by renal score, was significantly increased in the B6C3F1, but not in the NZBWF1 mice. Serum levels of autoantibodies to dsDNA and ssDNA were increased at more time points in B6C3F1, as compared to the NZBWF1 mice. Anti-GA autoantibodies were increased by TCE treatment in early stages of the study in NZBWF1 mice, but by 23 weeks of age, control levels were comparable to those of TCE-exposed animals. Serum levels anti-GA autoantibodies in B6C3F1 were not affected by TCE exposure. Overall, these data suggest that TCE did not contribute to the progression of autoimmune disease in autoimmune-prone mice during the period of 11-36 weeks of age, but rather lead to increased expression of markers associated with autoimmune disease in a non-genetically prone mouse strain.