Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by B cell hyperactivity leading to the production of various autoantibodies and subsequent development of glomerulonephritis, i.e. lupus nephritis. Among the principal targets of autoantibodies produced in murine SLE are nucleic acid-protein complexes, such as chromatin and ribonucleoproteins, and the envelope glycoprotein gp70 of endogenous retroviruses. The preferential production of these autoantibodies is apparently promoted by the presence of genetic abnormalities leading to defects in the elimination of apoptotic cells and to an enhanced expression of endogenous retroviruses. Moreover, recent studies revealed that the innate receptors TLR7 and TLR9 are critically involved in the activation of dendritic cells and autoreactive B cells through the recognition of endogenous DNA- or RNA-containing antigens and subsequent development of autoimmune responses against nuclear autoantigens. Furthermore, the regulation of autoimmune responses against endogenous retroviral gp70 by TLR7 suggested the implication of endogenous retroviruses in this autoimmune response. Clearly, further elucidation of the precise molecular role of TLR7 and TLR9 in the development of autoimmune responses will help to develop novel therapeutic strategies and targets for SLE.