The aim of the present study is to assess the association of elevated serum uric acid (UA) with lupus nephritis (LN) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. A total of 130 SLE patients were recruited, of whom 73 patients developed LN. Blood samples were obtained for determination of uric acid, complement 3 (C3), C-reactive protein (CRP) and some autoantibodies including anti-double-stranded DNA, -Smith, -SSA, -SSB, -U1RNP, SCL-70, and -Jo-1 antibodies. Correlations of UA with LN were assessed. UA was an independent risk factor for LN [odds ratio (95% CI): 1.01 (1.005-1.014); P=0.0000]. The best cut-off value for UA using the ROC curve was 330 μmol/L (sensitivity 78.1% and specificity 75.4%) and the area under the ROC curve was 0.803±0.039 (95% CI: 0.727-0.878, P=0.000). Spearman's correlation coefficient analysis showed negative association of UA with C3 in SLE patients with LN (r=-0.356, P=0.002), but no association in those without LN. No correlations were found between UA and age, SLEDAI, CRP, IgG, IgM or IgA. Furthermore, analysis of covariance demonstrated that anti-Sm (β=-0.218, P=0.004) and -U1RNP (β=0.177, P=0.008) autoantibodies were independent determinants of serum UA. The UA level is independently associated with the development of LN in SLE patients.