Autoantibodies to nuclear antigens, i.e. antinuclear antibodies (ANA), antibodies to double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and extractable nuclear antigens (ENA), are useful as diagnostic markers for a variety of autoimmune diseases. In March 2010, the Belgian national External Quality Assessment Scheme sent a questionnaire on ANA, anti-dsDNA and anti-ENA antibody testing designed by the Dutch EASI (European Autoimmunity Standardization Initiative) team, to all clinical laboratories performing ANA testing. Virtually all laboratories completed the questionnaire (97·7%, 127/130). This paper discusses the results of this questionnaire and provides valuable information on the state-of-the-art of ANA, anti-dsDNA and anti-ENA antibody testing as practiced in the Belgian laboratories. In addition, this work presents practical recommendations developed by the members of the advisory board of the scheme as a result of the outcome of this study.