Several studies suggest a link between autoimmunity and essential hypertension in humans. However, whether autoimmunity can drive the development of hypertension remains unclear. The autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus is characterized by autoantibody production, and the prevalence of hypertension is increased markedly in this patient population compared with normal healthy women. We hypothesized that preventing the development of autoimmunity would prevent the development of hypertension in a mouse model of lupus. Female lupus (NZBWF1) and control mice (NZW) were treated weekly with anti-CD20 or immunoglobulin G antibodies (both 10 mg/kg, IV) starting at 20 weeks of age for 14 weeks. Anti-CD20 therapy markedly attenuated lupus disease progression as evidenced by reduced CD45R+ B cells and lower double-stranded DNA autoantibody activity. In addition, renal injury in the form of urinary albumin, glomerulosclerosis, and tubulointerstitial fibrosis, as well as tubular injury (indicated by renal cortical expression of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin) was prevented by anti-CD20 therapy in lupus mice. Finally, lupus mice treated with anti-CD20 antibody did not develop hypertension. The protection against the development of hypertension was associated with lower renal cortical tumor necrosis factor-a expression, a cytokine that has been previously reported by us to contribute to the hypertension in this model, as well as renal cortical monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 expression and circulating T cells. These data suggest that the development of autoimmunity and the resultant increase in renal inflammation are an important underlying factor in the prevalent hypertension that occurs during systemic lupus erythematosus.