Research on SLE in the Asia-Pacific region is presently conducted separately in various centres. A co-ordinated and co-operative approach is advocated for a long-term, prospective study on lupus patients in this region. A pilot study involving Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore has been initiated with the intention of expanding it to a larger study, involving up to 1000 newly diagnosed lupus patients who will be followed up for 10 years. The study design and term definitions are patterned after that of the Euro-Lupus project so as to allow for meaningful comparisons. The protocol was discussed, pretested and revised before arriving at the final version to be used. The principal co-ordinators met and discussed with all pioneer participating rheumatologists to ensure common understanding of definitions and standardisation of laboratory procedures. Preliminary results are expected to be presented in about six months' time together with an invitation for more rheumatologists to participate in the project.