B cells mediate multiple functions that influence immune and inflammatory responses in rheumatoid arthritis. Production of a diverse array of autoantibodies can happen at different stages of the disease, and are important markers of disease outcome. In turn, the magnitude and quality of acquired humoral immune responses is strongly dependent on signals delivered by innate immune cells. Additionally, the milieu of cells and chemokines that constitute a niche for plasma cells rely strongly on signals provided by stromal cells at different anatomical locations and times. The chronic inflammatory state therefore importantly impacts the developing humoral immune response and its intensity and specificity. We focus this review on B cell biology and the role of the innate immune system in the development of autoimmunity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.