The Highborne, also known as Highborn or High-borne,— Quel'dorei meaning "Children of noble birth" in Darnassian and "High Elves" in Thalassian) were the upper classes of the Kaldorei civilization and the favored servitors of Queen Azshara. Despite their near-identical physical appearance, the ancient Kaldorei were already split across racial lines as night elves and "Highborne" elves. The Highborne of Zin'Azshari, the Night Elf capital were largely responsible for the War of the Ancients, and most of those Highborne who had allied with the demons and survived the war later became the Naga and the Satyr. Those that allied with the Kaldorei Resistance before the last battle of the war evolved into the modern high elves.
Some Highborne still exist in their original forms. One such group, known as the Shen'dralar, live in secrecy within their city of Eldre'Thalas — known as Dire Maul to outsiders. Those Highborne who live elsewhere in the world — such as Archmage Tarsis Kir-Moldir — are few in number; the majority having long since become high elves, blood elves, naga, or satyrs.
Recently, citing "change on the wind", the remaining Highborne have been drawn out of hiding, sending representatives to the Kirin Tor and to Tyrande Whisperwind, to rejoin Kaldorei society at large claiming that there will soon be a time when "the kaldorei require the knowledge and skill" the highborne have to offer.
Modern night elves can master the arcane, although doing so will change him forever. Once a night elf learned to use arcane spellcasting, he suffered a painful transformation that stripped away his native night elf adaptations and replaced them with those of the Highborne elves. The complete change occurred within the space of a week and could not be reversed once started. However, though stripped of his racial heritage, in this early era his physical attributes would not change.