Rheumatic autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), are associated with antibodies to "self" antigens. Persons with autoimmune diseases, most notably SLE, are at increased risk for developing accelerated cardiovascular disease. The link between immune and inflammatory responses in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease has been firmly established; yet, despite our increasing knowledge, accelerated atherosclerosis continues to be a significant co-morbidity and cause of mortality in SLE. Recent animal models have been generated in order to identify mechanism(s) behind SLE-accelerated atherosclerosis. In addition, clinical studies have been designed to examine potential treatments options. This review will highlight data from recent studies of immunity in SLE and atherosclerosis and discuss the potential implications of these investigations.