The clinical significance of high-titer antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and autoantibodies to cellular antigens such as SSA/Ro and nuclear RNP (nRNP) antigens in idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) was examined in a prospective evaluation of 66 adult patients with chronic ITP. ANA were positive in 29 (44%) of 66 patients with chronic ITP. The titers of ANA were high (1:160 or higher) in 14 of 29 ANA-positive patients. Furthermore, 10 of 66 patients had precipitating antibodies to nuclear antigens; seven patients had anti-SSA/Ro antibodies and the other three had anti-nRNP antibodies. None of high-titer ANA- or precipitating antibody-positive patients developed systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) throughout the follow-up period of 3 years. In addition, we investigated retrospectively precipitating antibodies in stocked sera from 8 patients. These patients had already precipitating antibodies average of 7.7 years before. None of 8 patients developed SLE or Sjogren's syndrome (SS). These data demonstrate that high-titer ANA and antibodies to SSA/Ro or nRNP antigens are often found in patients with ITP, and indicate that the detection of high-titer ANA or the existence of antibodies to SSA/Ro or nRNP antigens by itself is not enough to identify those patients with ITP who are at risk of developing SLE or SS.