OBJECTIVE: To examine the accumulation of risk factors over 3 years in a multicenter, international inception cohort of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). METHODS: The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics registry for atherosclerosis comprises 27 centers from 11 countries. An inception cohort of 935 patients with SLE was assembled, according to a standardized protocol, from 2000 to 2006 to study risk factors for atherosclerosis. Both classic and other coronary artery disease (CAD) risk factors were collected at entry and through 3 years of followup. Therapy was documented over the 3 years. The Framingham 10-year risk factor profile was calculated for each patient at year 1 and year 3. RESULTS: A total of 278 patients from the inception cohort were followed for 3 years and constituted the population for this study. At enrollment a substantial number of patients already demonstrated several risk factors for CAD, both classic and other. All risk factors increased from enrollment over the 3 years of followup. Treatment of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia also increased over 3 years, but less so for hypercholesterolemia. The Framingham 10-year CAD risk profile was higher in men than in women both at entry and at 3 years, and remained unchanged over the 3 years. Corticosteroid use increased only slightly over 3 years, but use of antimalarials and immunosuppressive agents increased to a greater extent. CONCLUSION: Patients with SLE should be monitored for CAD risk factors from the time of diagnosis and appropriate treatment should be instituted early.