Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a type I IFN (IFN-I)-driven autoimmune disorder with exaggerated B and Th cell responses. Th17 cells, a recently identified Th cell subset, have been strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of SLE. Because IFN-I suppresses the generation and expansion of Th17 cells in an IL-27-dependent manner, it is unclear how pathogenic Th17 cells are generated in SLE in the presence of an environment characterized by high IFN-I levels. In this study, we showed that activation of c5aR on murine macrophages blocked IFN-I-mediated IL-27 production, thus permitting the development of Th17 cells. C5aR activation on IFN-I-responsive macrophages inhibits IRF-1-mediated transactivation of IL-27 gene expression via the PI3K/Akt pathway. Consistently, C5aR-deficient mice exhibited increased IL-27 expression and fewer Th17 cells and consequently developed reduced lupus nephritis in comparison with wild-type mice. In support of these findings in mice, we found that C5a inhibited IFN-I-induced IL-27 production from macrophages of lupus subjects. Moreover, the level of serum C5a correlated with Th17 frequency in peripheral blood. Collectively, these data indicate an essential role for C5a in the generation of pathogenic Th17 responses in SLE. Thus, therapeutic strategies to block C5aR activation may be beneficial for controlling pathogenic Th17-mediated inflammation in SLE.