The current study was to determine the predictors of survival in 491 Chinese patients with lupus nephritis (LN). All patients were evaluated and consecutively followed up from 2003 to 2010. The female: male ratio was 9.5:1, with a median age of 31.1 ± 12 years. Forty-nine (10.0%) patients were lost to follow-up and 47 (10.3%) patients died. The overall cumulative probability of survival at 5, 10, 15 and 20 years by Kaplan-Meier analysis was 88%, 77%, 53% and 45%, respectively. The log-rank test showed that the probability of survival was significantly decreased in the late-onset patients (≥50 years) (P = 0.036), patients with hypoproteinaemia (≤35 g/l) (P = 0.014), patients with increased creatinine (≥1.5 mg/dl) (P = 0.002) and patients with massive proteinuria (≥3.5 g/24 h) (P = 0.009). However, the probability of survival was significantly higher in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) (P = 0.003) than those not treated with it. Based on a multivariate model, increased creatinine (hazard ratio (HR) = 2.041; P = 0.017) and proteinuria ≥3.5 g/24hours (HR=1.716; P = 0.016) were independent risk factors. Glucocorticoid (HR = 0.457; P = 0.01) and HCQ (HR=0.197; P = 0.026) were independent protective factors. Our findings suggest that renal dysfunction and massive proteinuria are independent risk factors for mortality. HCQ could improve the survival of patients with LN.