Abstract The concept that regulatory T cells (Treg) play a key role in both development and maintenance of autoimmune response in rheumatic diseases is well accepted. In recent years, several studies analyzed Treg cell phenotype and function in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the prototypical systemic autoimmune disorder in humans. Although qualitative and/or quantitative abnormalities of Treg cells have been shown, data are often conflicting. This may depend on the selection of patients with different degrees of disease activity or on immunosuppressive treatments that can alter Treg cell findings. Among several proposed surface or intracellular Treg cell markers, CD25 at high level of expression and the transcription factor Foxp3 are the two most investigated in SLE. Despite the glucocorticoid-induced TNF receptor-related protein (GITR) represents a reliable phenotypic marker of murine Treg cells, little is known about its role in humans, in particular in the course of systemic autoimmune disorders. Preliminary data seems to suggest that this marker may represent a good tool to identify cell populations included within Treg cell subsets.