Objectives This study aimed to assess the potential role of the TNF superfamily member lymphocyte T-related inducible ligand that competes for glycoprotein D binding to herpesvirus entry mediator on T cells (LIGHT) in SSc through evaluation of: skin expression of LIGHT and its receptors, herpesvirus entry mediator and lymphotoxin ß-related receptor, and serum concentration of LIGHT in SSc patients. Methods Expression of LIGHT and its receptors was investigated by immunohistochemistry and evaluated semi-quantitatively in skin biopsies from 19 SSc patients and 9 healthy controls. Serum levels of LIGHT were measured using ELISA in 329 patients with SSc and 50 control subjects. Results Expression of LIGHT and both receptors was higher in SSc patients compared with controls (P < 0.05 for all comparisons). Patients with early SSc (⩽ 3 years from the first non-Raynaud's phenomenon symptom) showed higher expression of LIGHT and herpesvirus entry mediator compared with patients with longer disease duration (P < 0.05 for both comparisons). The mean serum concentration of LIGHT was significantly higher in SSc patients compared with the controls (P < 0.05). High serum concentration of LIGHT was associated with male sex, presence of digital ulcers, muscle involvement (defined by elevated serum creatine kinase levels), steroid treatment and lack of ACA. However, in multivariate regression analysis only presence of digital ulcers and creatine kinase elevation were independently associated with serum concentration of LIGHT. Conclusion These data provide the first evidence of overexpression of LIGHT and its receptors in SSc and suggest that the LIGHT axis might contribute to the pathogenesis of SSc. Increased serum concentrations of LIGHT seem to reflect vascular injury in SSc.