In human type 1 diabetes (T1D) autoantibodies to insulin precede clinical disease, while little is known about the contribution of insulin-specific T lymphocytes-in particular, T helper (Th) subsets. Here we have studied the in vivo primed cytokine response to preproinsulin in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and two major Th cell subsets-CD45RO+ memory cells and CD45RA+ naive/resting cells-in 35 individuals with HLA-DRB1*04, DQB1*0302 diabetes risk marker: 12 patients with T1D, 12 autoantibody-positive (Ab+) individuals, and 11 healthy controls. Cytokine secretion (TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, and IL-10) was measured in the supernatants of the cultures stimulated with 21 overlapping preproinsulin peptides as well as proinsulin and insulin. In Ab+ individuals our results reveal higher IL-4 levels in CD45RO+ memory cells and higher IL-5 levels in CD45RA+ naive/resting cells, while higher IL-2 production was found in PBMCs. In contrast, in PBMCs of T1D patients higher IFN-gamma and IL-10 secretion was found. Our data delineate characteristic cytokine patterns in peripheral T lymphocytes from patients at different stages of the T1D development.