Genetic predisposition and environmental factors influence the development of human autoimmune disease. Occupational exposure to crystalline silica (cSiO2) has been etiologically linked to increased incidence of autoimmunity, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that early repeated short-term cSiO2 exposure will modulate both latency and severity of autoimmunity in the lupus-prone female NZBWF1 mouse.