Laboratory studies in systemic lupus erythematosus, as in many other diseases, are important in two ways: first, to establish a diagnosis and aid in the treatment of individual patients; second, to help in understanding the development of the disease process. This discussion will be limited to the more general aspects of laboratory findings in this disease.
The description of the L. E. cell by Hargraves, Richmond, and Morton1 in 1948 was of foremost importance because it established a simple and reliable diagnostic test for a disease which, until then, had been extremely difficult to diagnose. At the same time the L. E. cell test made two other claims for interest. First, because atypical as well as typical cases could now be diagnosed with some certainty, the importance of other abnormal findings and their relationship to one another could be assessed. A yardstick was