Patients with autoimmune disorders exhibit highly reproducible gene expression profiles in their peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These signatures may result from chronic inflammation, other disease manifestations, or may reflect family resemblance. To test the latter hypothesis, we determined gene expression profiles in unaffected first-degree relatives of individuals with autoimmune disease. Gene expression profiles in unaffected first-degree relatives resembled the profiles found in individuals with autoimmune diseases. A high percentage of differentially expressed genes in unaffected first-degree relatives were previously identified as autoimmune signature genes. Examination of the linear regression relationship of gene transcript levels between parent-offspring pairs revealed that autoimmune signature genes display high levels of family resemblance. Taken together, these results support the hypothesis that these variations in gene transcript levels are associated with family resemblance rather than clinical manifestations of disease.