Follicular helper T (Tfh) cells select mutated B cells in germinal centres, which can then differentiate into long-lived high affinity memory B cells and plasma cells. Tfh cells are regulated by a unique molecular programme orchestrated by the transcriptional repressor Bcl6. This transcription factor turns down expression of multiple genes, including transcriptional regulators of other T helper lineages and a vast amount of microRNAs. This enables Tfh cells to express a suite of chemokine receptors, stimulatory ligands and cytokines that enable migration into B-cell follicles, and provision of effective help to B cells. Not surprisingly, dysregulation of this powerful helper subset can lead to a range of autoantibody-mediated diseases; indeed, aberrant accumulation of Tfh cells has been linked with systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren's disease and autoimmune arthritis. Here we dissect multiple checkpoints that operate throughout Tfh cell development and maturation to maintain immunological tolerance while mounting robust and long-lasting antibody responses.