We analyzed survival rate and important clinical outcomes in 411 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus who were seen at our center between 1969 and 1984. All eligible subjects met 4 of the revised American Rheumatism Association criteria for systemic lupus erythematosus and all were seen within 2 years of diagnosis. Mean followup was 75.6 months. Multivariate analysis suggested significant independent effects of race (P = 0.0139) and socioeconomic status (P = 0.0326) on survival. No evidence of diminished lupus-related mortality with age was documented. Previously reported findings of improved survival rate with age may have been confounded by differences in race distribution between the younger- and older-onset groups.