Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) was diagnosed in 31 black Zimbabweans over a six year period. Renal involvement (71%) was more common and photosensitivity (16%) and serositis (23%) less common than in the United States. Lymphopenia (48%) was the commonest haematological abnormality. Unusual complications included subarachnoid haemorrhage, cardiac rhythm disturbance, portal and superior mesenteric vein thrombosis, and a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Tuberculosis was a common differential diagnosis that was difficult to exclude. Nine patients (29%) died within one year of diagnosis. SLE is being recognised more commonly in Zimbabwe.