Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is a disease with an autoimmune aetiology. The inbred non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse strain provides a good animal model of the human disease and genetic analysis suggests that, as in man, at least one of the several genes controlling the development of IDDM is linked to the major histocompatibility complex. The NOD mouse does not express I-E owing to a deletion in the promoter region of the I-E alpha-chain gene, and the sequence of NOD I-A beta-chain in the first external domain is unique with His 56 and Ser 57 replacing Pro and Asp, respectively, at these positions. There has been considerable interest in the role amino acid 57 might have in conferring susceptibility to autoimmune diseases, including IDDM. The presence of a charged residue (such as Asp) at this position might affect the conformation of the peptide binding groove. But it could be assumed that Pro 56 gives rise to a different conformation of I-A beta-chain than does His 56. We therefore constructed transgenic NOD mice in which the transgene encoded a modified A beta nod with Pro 56, and studied its effect on the development of IDDM in this mouse strain. Previous studies have suggested that NOD mice expressing I-E as a result of the introduction of an I-E alpha-chain (E alpha) transgene are protected from the development of insulitis and hence IDDM. To explore further the protective effect of this molecule we constructed a second class of transgenic NOD mouse carrying an E alpha d transgene. Both transgenes protected the mice from IDDM, but this was not associated with a complete deletion of any T cells expressing commonly used T-cell receptor V beta genes.