The alternative pathway (AP) of complement activation is constitutively active and must be regulated by host proteins to prevent autologous tissue injury. Dysfunction of AP regulatory proteins has been linked to several human inflammatory disorders. Properdin is a positive regulator of AP complement activation that has been shown to extend the half-life of cell surface–bound C3 convertase C3bBb; it may also initiate AP complement activation. Here, we demonstrate a critical role for properdin in autologous tissue injury mediated by AP complement activation. We identified myeloid lineage cells as the principal source of plasma properdin by generating mice with global and tissue-specific knockout of Cfp (which encodes properdin) and by generating BM chimeric mice. Properdin deficiency rescued mice from AP complement–mediated embryonic lethality caused by deficiency of the membrane complement regulator Crry and markedly reduced disease severity in the K/BxN model of arthritis. Ab neutralization of properdin in WT mice similarly ameliorated arthritis development, whereas reconstitution of properdin-null mice with exogenous properdin restored arthritis sensitivity. These data implicate systemic properdin as a key contributor to AP complement–mediated injury and support its therapeutic targeting in complement-dependent human diseases.