Mice with chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), induced by injection of DBA/2 lymphocytes in (C57BL10*DBA/2) F1 hybrids, develop a syndrome resembling systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with immune complex glomerulonephritis. In this model we evaluated the role of interactions between CD11a (LFA-1alpha) and CD54 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)) molecules on leucocytes in the development of renal disease in systemic autoimmunity. Two weeks after induction of GVHD, when anti-nuclear autoantibodies were detected in the circulation and immune complexes had formed in the glomeruli, mice were injected twice per week with rat anti-CD11a and anti-CD54 MoAbs, or with their vehicle PBS, or with control rat IgG. MoAb treatment significantly lowered albuminuria and increased survival compared with control mice with GVHD. In the glomeruli of MoAb-treated mice there was markedly less binding of immunoglobulin and C3, while anti-renal tubular epithelium autoantibodies, but not anti-glomerular basement membrane autoantibodies, were significantly lowered in the circulation 4 weeks after disease induction. In addition, MoAb treatment inhibited the glomerular influx of CD11a+ cells and decreased development of histological abnormalities in the kidneys. Both rat IgG- and MoAb-treated mice developed anti-rat immunoglobulin antibodies. Furthermore, a marked splenomegaly with an increase of the T cell compartment was observed in MoAb-treated mice with GVHD. These results show that CD11a/CD54 interactions are crucial for the full-blown development of lupus nephritis in this model. Treatment aimed at blocking the activity of these molecules profoundly attenuated the development of renal disease in chronic GVHD even if started when first symptoms of SLE (i.e. anti-nuclear autoantibodies in sera and glomerular binding of immunoglobulins) were already detectable.