A survey of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients was conducted in civilian general hospitals on Oahu, Hawaii for the years 1970-75. One hundred sixty-eight cases were ascertained, of which 107 were considered "definite." Age-adjusted prevalence rates per 100,000 were estimated for definite cases at the end of 1975 as follows: white 5.8, Chinese 24.1, Filipino 19.9, part-Hawaiian 20.4, and Japanese 18.2. There was a heavy preponderance of females in each ethnic group, averaging 90% of the definite cases overall. Review of vital statistics for the United States and Hawaii during this period showed age-adjusted SLE mortality rates per million as follows: U.S. white 3.04, U.S. non-white 8.82, Hawaii white 1.89, Hawaii non-white 14.46. The cause of the very high SLE prevalence and mortality in the Oriental and Polynesian people of Hawaii is not clear.