A retrospective review of the clinical records of 54 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and documented tuberculosis (TB) infection seen at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital was accomplished. There were 53 women and one man, with a mean age of 32.2 +/- 10 years and a total of 57 TB occurrences. Pulmonary involvement was recorded in 42 (74%): upper lungfield in 25, mid to lower lungfield in 7, and miliary pattern or diffuse infiltrates in 10. TB arthritis was noted in 8, osteomyelitis in 4, and soft tissue abscesses in 4. Central nervous system involvement consisted of brain abscesses (tuberculomas) in two and meningitis in one. Two patients each had TB lymphadenitis, genitourinary TB, ileocecal TB, and TB peritonitis. Hepatobiliary and cutaneous TB occurred in one patient each. Eight of 10 patients with disseminated or miliary TB died primarily of respiratory failure; six of these eight patients also had some form of extrapulmonary involvement. Using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test, there were significant differences in the mean SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) and Severity of Disease Index (SDI) scores between those with limited TB (SLEDAI 24 +/- 7 SD; SDI 19 +/- 18 SD) versus those with extensive TB (SLEDAI 41 +/- 16 SD; SDI 36 +/- 21 SD), P < .05. There was no significant difference in the average daily prednisone dose (mg) between those with limited TB (25 +/- 17 SD) versus those with extensive TB (31 +/- 16 SD). The contributory role of tuberculous infection in the morbidity and mortality of patients with SLE must be emphasized, especially in areas endemic for TB.