A seropositive white man had follow-up for 16 years with a diagnosis of palindromic rheumatism. Treatment had included parenteral gold, methotrexate, prednisone, hydroxychloroquine sulfate, and penicillamine before diarrhea led to a biopsy-proven diagnosis of Whipple's disease. Clinical and radiographic criteria for ankylosing spondylitis were met. In addition to classic Whipple's arthropathy, he had the combined but singular findings of pancarpal destruction and cervical apophyseal fusion. HLA typing revealed the B7 antigen. This case illustrates the pitfalls in diagnosis of a chronic polyarthritis that has, as a typical feature, a long latency before manifesting its more specific signs and symptoms (ie, diarrhea, malabsorption, and hyperpigmentation). Care should be taken during evaluation of any disease with atypical and nonspecific features (eg, positive rheumatoid factor in a patient with polyarthritis) and one should continue to reevaluate the original impression, while confirmatory evidence is lacking. Moreover, the roentgenographic findings of pancarpal narrowing, apophyseal fusion, and advanced iliofemoral joint disease, in addition to sacroiliitis and syndesmophyte formation, challenge the generally held notion that Whipple's arthropathy is a nondestructive joint disease.