Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease with no known cause or cure that typically follows an unpredictable course. The present article provides a comprehensive review of the psychological literature related to etiology, effects, and treatment of RA. A brief summary of the relevant medical aspects of RA also is included. The possible role of psychological variables in the onset of RA is critically discussed; the potential etiological role of stress is emphasized. An examination of the multiple consequences of RA suggests that psychologists can play an important role in the development of standardized assessment techniques to measure the effects of RA. The increasing use of psychological treatment strategies to reduce the pain and disability associated with RA also reflects the growing collaboration between rheumatologists and psychologists. It is concluded that methodological problems apparent in the literature must be overcome for psychologists to contribute further to clinical research and practice in the rheumatic disease area. © 1985 American Psychological Association.