The non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse is a widely used animal model for the study of human diabetes. The lymphocytic (peri-)insulitis is preceded by an early accumulation of dendritic cells (DC) around the islets of Langerhans. This DC accumulation is thought to derive from an influx of monocytes attracted by pro-inflammatory chemokines. Besides chemokines, extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins play an important role in the accumulation of leukocytes in tissues. We studied the expression of the chemokines CCL2, CCL5, CXCL10, CCL19 and CCL21 over time in pancreases of NOD and control mice by ELISA on pancreas lysates as well as by immunohistochemistry. In addition, we studied the adhesive capacity of bone marrow-derived DC (BMDC) to ECM components. DC in the NOD pancreas accumulated at sites with an intense expression of fibronectin. In vitro, NOD BMDC showed increased fibronectin adhesion and increased VLA-5 expression. At the time of early DC accumulation (<10 wk), the lymphoid tissue-related chemokines CCL19 and CCL21 were increased. Our findings support the view that the early accumulation of DC around the NOD islets is not the consequence of an enhanced attraction of precursors and immature DC by pro-inflammatory chemokines. It rather might be the consequence of an aberrantly enhanced adhesion and retention of NOD DC.