Autonomic nerve function was evaluated by deep breathing and tilt table tests in 17 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and in 24 healthy control subjects. The results showed that all RA patients had increased heart rates at rest, irrespective of the severity of the disease. Patients with severe RA had increased systolic and diastolic blood pressures before and after tilting. Pronounced abnormalities in the immediate heart rate reaction to tilting indicating autonomic neuropathy (AN) were also demonstrated in patients with severe RA. The abnormal immediate reaction to tilting was mainly the result of vagal neuropathy. From the present study it is evident that severe RA may be accompanied by AN and the consequences need to be elucidated.