© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved A common feature of autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an increased prevalence in women. However, the molecular basis for sex disparity in SLE remains poorly understood. To examine the role of X-linked transcription in SLE adaptive immune cells, we performed RNA-seq in T cell and B cell subsets from either healthy donors or patients with SLE. Analyses of allelic expression (AE) profiles identified a pattern of increased allelic imbalance across the entire X chromosome in SLE lymphocytes. X-linked genes exhibiting AE in SLE had an extensive overlap with genes known to escape X chromosome inactivation (XCI). XIST RNA was overexpressed in SLE patients. Differential XIST expression correlated with AE profiles more positively at X-linked genes than the genome-wide background. Analysis of three independent RNA-seq data verified the XIST-associated skewed AE on X chromosome in SLE. Integrative analyses of DNA methylation profiles showed an increased variability of DNA methylation levels at these AE-related X-linked genes. In cultured lymphoblastic cells, knockdown of XIST specifically altered allelic imbalance patterns between X chromosomes. Our study provides genetic evidence that upregulation of XIST accompanied with more skewed allelic expression on X chromosome is associated with the pathogenesis of SLE and may provide mechanistic insights into the increased incidence of SLE in females.