Antiserum to the Borrelia burgdorferi arthritis-related protein, Arp, has been shown to prevent or reduce arthritis in immunodeficient mice. To directly investigate the requirement for this lipoprotein in the generation of Lyme arthritis, we utilized targeted deletion to generate a B. burgdorferi clone that lacked only the arp gene locus. Infection of Lyme disease-susceptible C3H/HeN mice with the arp deletion mutant demonstrated significantly reduced tibiotarsal joint swelling during the first 6 weeks of infection compared to a wild-type control. The severity of joint swelling was restored to wild-type levels in mice infected with an arp mutant clone complemented in cis. Interestingly, the reduced swelling of joint tissues exhibited by mice infected with the arp deletion mutant did not directly correspond to reduced underlying arthritis. Histopathology data at 2 weeks postinfection showed some reduction in arthritis severity caused by the arp mutant clone; however, by 8 weeks, no significant difference was observed between joint tissues infected by the wild-type or arp mutant clones. The spirochete load in the joint tissues of mice infected with the arp mutant was found to be greater than that exhibited by the wild-type control. Our findings demonstrate that this lipoprotein contributes to the generation of early-onset joint swelling and suggests that arp expression has a negative secondary effect on total spirochete numbers in joint tissues.