Cell cycle, apoptosis, and replicative senescence are all influenced by the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p21. It was previously reported that deletion of p21 in 129/Sv x C57BL/6 mixed genetic background mice induced a severe lupus-like disease, almost exclusively in females. However, we did not confirm this finding in an independently derived stock of 129/Sv x C57BL/6 p21(-/-) mice. To further address this discrepancy, we examined the effects of p21 deletion in BXSB female mice that develop late-life, mild lupus-like disease. Survival, polyclonal Igs, anti-chromatin Abs, and kidney histopathology in these mice were unremarkable and identical to wild-type littermates for up to 14 mo of age. We conclude that p21 deficiency does not promote autoimmunity even in females of a predisposed strain. The findings indicate that the use of mixed background 129/Sv x C57BL/6 mice to study effects of gene deletions in systemic autoimmunity may be confounded by the genetic heterogeneity of this cross. We suggest that studies addressing gene deletion effects in systemic autoimmunity should use sufficiently backcrossed mice to attain genetic homogeneity, include wild-type littermate controls, and preferentially use congenic inbred strains with late-life lupus predisposition to emulate the polygenic nature of this disease.