Skin fibroblasts derived from three normal individuals and three patients exhibiting the disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were exposed to the simulated sunlight produced by a solar simulator. The induction and repair of DNA damage induced by this treatment were examined. The total number of lesions repaired by excision, as well as the removal of pyrimidine dimers and E. coli endonuclease III-sensitive sites did not differ significantly in the three SLE cell strains compared with normal cells. However, abnormalities in the formation and maintenance of DNA-protein crosslinks (DPC) and DNA and single-strand breaks (SSB) were found in SLE-4 and SLE-5 following simulated sunlight exposure. In contrast, SLE-3 cells exhibited responses similar to normal cells in reference to SSB and DPC formation. These findings correlate well with the previously determined UV sensitivity of these SLE cell strains.