Renal involvement is common in systemic lupus erythematosus. Early diagnosis of lupus nephritis (LN), allowing the instigation of appropriate therapy, remains an important clinical challenge. Current biomarkers in clinical practice are less than ideal, lacking both sensitivity and specificity. In the previous issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, Schwartz and colleagues demonstrated the potential value of urinary TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (uTWEAK) as a biomarker for LN. They showed that uTWEAK is elevated in subjects with LN at diagnosis compared with those with systemic lupus erythematosus but no renal disease, and correlates with the degree of clinical disease activity. These data are thought-provoking and provide the platform for future longer-term studies.