Eighteen patients with lupus erythematosus (LE) and pleural effusions were evaluated. Fourteen patients had lupus pleuritis and four had pleural effusions of other etiologies. All patients were symptomatic, and the presenting signs and symptoms did not help distinguish between lupus pleuritis and pleural effusions of other causes. The presence of LE cells confirmed the diagnosis of lupus pleuritis in seven of eight patients. In 11 of 13 patients with lupus pleuritis, the pleural fluid antinuclear antibody (ANA) titer was greater than or equal to 1:160, and in nine of 13 patients with lupus pleuritis, the pleural fluid to serum (PF/S) ANA ratio was greater than or equal to 1. In the four patients with LE and a pleural effusion of another etiology, the pleural fluid ANA titer was negative in two and low titer in two (1:40, 1:80); the pleural fluid to serum ANA titer was always less than one. Of 67 patients with pleural effusions of other etiologies, the pleural fluid ANA was negative. The signs and symptoms of lupus pleuritis are nonspecific, however; the findings of LE cells in pleural fluid confirms the diagnosis and a high pleural fluid ANA titer (greater than or equal to 1:160) and a PF/S ANA ratio of greater than or equal to 1 strongly supports the diagnosis.