To investigate the associations of DNA methylation levels and mRNA expressions of DNA cytosine-5-methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) and methyl CpG-binding domain 2 (MBD2) with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 108 patients with SLE and 97 healthy controls were enrolled in this study. DNA and total RNA were extracted from the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of the SLE patients and the controls. The global methylation levels of DNA were measured in 63 patients with SLE and 68 healthy controls by the ELISA method. DNMT1 and MBD2 mRNA were also detected in 108 SLE patients and 97 controls using the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction method. The global methylation level of DNA was significantly decreased in the SLE patients in comparison with that in the controls (p < 0.001, 95% CI = 0.1573-0.5052). The patients with SLE have higher expressions of DNMT1 and MBD2 mRNA than the controls (p < 0.001, 95% CI = -0.0049 - -0.0019 and p = 0.001, 95% CI = -0.0119 - -0.0029, respectively). We also found that there were no significant differences in the methylation level and the expression of DNMT1 and MBD2 mRNA between the active and the inactive SLE patients. A positive correlation was also found between DNMT1 and MBD2 mRNA expressions in the SLE patients (p < 0.001). This study demonstrated that the patients with SLE had a significantly lower level of DNA methylation than the controls. The expression of both DNMT1 and MBD2 mRNA was significantly increased in the SLE patients compared with the controls. This study also showed a positive correlation between DNMT1 and MBD2 mRNA levels in the patients with SLE.