(NZB x NZW)F1 mice spontaneously develop with age an autoimmune disease that resembles the human disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The present study demonstrates that methimazole (MMI), an agent used in the treatment of autoimmune thyroid disease, is effective in mitigating the development of this SLE-like autoimmune disease in (NZB x NZW)F1 mice. MMI significantly reduces the incidence and severity of proteinuria and deposition of immune complexes in the kidney. Previous studies have demonstrated that development of an experimentally induced SLE, which was prevented by MMI treatment, depended on the expression of MHC class I molecules. We now report that class I levels on both T cells and B cells from old (NZB x NZW)F1 MHC class I are markedly elevated relative to those from young F1 mice. Furthermore, treatment of (NZB x NZW)F1 mice with MMI reduced MHC class I expression on their PBL concomitant with amelioration of disease, raising the possibility that class I molecules may play a role in the generation of spontaneous autoimmune disease in these mice.