Objective. To investigate the effectiveness and feasibility of extracorporeal photochemotherapy (ECP) in the treatment of an autoimmune disease with known cutaneous photosensitivity.

Methods. Ten patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were treated with ECP in an open clinical trial. The efficacy of treatment was analyzed by means of established disease activity scores.

Results. Eight patients completed the trial. In 7 of the 8, there was a significant response to the treatment, with no or minor side effects. The clinical activity score in the group of 8 patients decreased from a median of 7 (range 4–9) to a median of 1 (range 0–5) (P < 0.05). Laboratory abnormalities did not change significantly, but were mild at the outset.

Conclusion. ECP led to clinical improvement of SLE without side effects. The effectiveness of this method should be investigated further in controlled clinical trials.