A clinical and laboratory survey of systemic lupus erythematosus was conducted in 33 Arab patients in the UAE. Arthropathy (91%) followed by renal involvement (54%) and haematological disorders (45.5%) were the major clinical manifestations. Discoid rash (3%) was the least common. Apart from headaches, other neuropsychiatric symptoms were uncommon or not encountered. A number of distinctive clinical subsets of lupus was also observed. An unusually high prevalence of dsDNA antibodies was detected in the study (97%), compared with a prevalence of 89.5% of ANF. There was a relative paucity of anti-Ro (18.5%), La (7.5%) and RNP (11%) antibodies, but a high rate of anti-Sm(33%). The occurrence of the latter in patients with central nervous system and renal disease was insignificant. C3-Hypocomplementaemia occurred in 38.5% of the patients and a positive VDRL and Coomb's test in 9% and 24%, respectively. This study provides additional information on the characterization of systemic lupus erythematosus in various populations.