OBJECTIVE: To assess whether patients with RA and SLE who are of South Asian origin have different beliefs about medicines in general, and about DMARDs in particular, compared with patients of White British/Irish origin. METHODS: One hundred patients of South Asian origin (50 RA; 50 SLE) and 100 patients of White British/Irish origin (50 RA; 50 SLE) were recruited. Demographic and disease-related details and responses to the Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire (BMQ), the SF-36 and the HAQ were collected. RESULTS: Patients of South Asian origin had significantly higher General Overuse (GO), General Harm (GH) and Specific Concern (SC) scores compared with patients of White British/Irish origin. Forward stepwise multivariable regression analysis showed that ethnic origin was an independent predictor of the GO, GH and SC scores with patients of South Asian origin having higher scores in these three scales of the BMQ. CONCLUSION: RA and SLE patients of South Asian origin have very high levels of concern about DMARDs and are generally worried about prescribed medicines. This may have an impact on adherence in this group of patients and further work is needed to understand the reasons underlying these beliefs.