In an attempt to find a reliable method to assess fever in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a multifactorial analysis was applied to the routine laboratory examinations, including white blood cell count (WBC) and serum globulin fraction concentrations. During 74 febrile episodes, 49 SLE patients showed increased disease activity and the remaining 25 febrile episodes were due to intercurrent infection. The two different groups of fever episodes were clearly separated by a principal component analysis using five variables from the routine laboratory tests, including WBC, serum alpha-1, alpha-2, beta, and gamma globulins. Discriminant analysis showed that 95% of 74 febrile episodes could be correctly classified as to the cause of fever when a combination of WBC and alpha-2 globulin level was used as variables. A simple discriminant formula which we calculated was considered to be of practical use for the differentiation of the two clinical entities.