As our knowledge of type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes increases, so does our appreciation for the pathogenic complexity of this disease and the challenges associated with its treatment. Many new concepts about the pathogenesis of this disorder have arisen. The role of genetics versus environment in disease formation has been questioned, and the basis on which type 1 diabetes is characterised and diagnosed is the subject of much debate. Additionally, the care and treatment of patients with type 1 diabetes has seen a rapid evolution; with genetically engineered insulins, glucose monitoring devices, and algorithms all contributing to a decrease in disease-related complications. We focus this seminar on these changing views, and offer a new perspective on our understanding of the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and on principles for therapeutic management of patients with this disorder.