Suppression by T regulatory (Tr) cells is essential for induction of tolerance. Many types of Tr cells have been described in a number of systems, and their biology has been the subject of intensive investigation. Although many aspects of the mechanisms by which these cells exert their effects remain to be elucidated, it is well established that Tr cells suppress immune responses via cell-to-cell interactions and/or the production of interleukin (IL)-10 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta. Type-1 T regulatory (Tr1) cells are defined by their ability to produce high levels of IL-10 and TGF-beta. Tr1 cells specific for a variety of antigens arise in vivo, but may also differentiate from naive CD4+ T cells in the presence of IL-10 in vitro. Tr1 cells have a low proliferative capacity, which can be overcome by IL-15. Tr1 cells suppress naive and memory T helper type 1 or 2 responses via production of IL-10 and TGF-beta. Further characterisation of Tr1 cells at the molecular level will define their mechanisms of action and clarify their relationship with other subsets of Tr cells. The use of Tr1 cells to identify novel targets for the development of new therapeutic agents, and as a cellular therapy to modulate peripheral tolerance, can be foreseen.