Recent studies in animal models for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have shown that Toll-like receptors (TLR-7 and TLR-9) and interferon (IFN)-α are involved in the pathogenesis of murine lupus. Recent studies using flow cytometry have also shown increased expression of TLR-9 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from SLE patients. In this study, we performed quantitative real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction analyses of PBMCs from 21 SLE patients and 21 healthy subjects, to estimate TLR2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR5, TLR7, TLR8, TLR9, IFN-α and LY6E (a type I IFN-inducible gene) mRNA expression levels. Expression levels of TLR2, TLR7, TLR9, IFN-α and LY6E mRNAs in SLE patients were significantly higher than those in healthy controls. Expression levels of TLR7 and TLR9 mRNAs correlated with that of IFN-α mRNA in SLE patients. These results suggest that up-regulated expression of TLR7 and TLR9 mRNAs together with increased expression of IFN-α mRNA in PBMCs may also contribute to the pathogenesis of human lupus.