Clinical studies have suggested that excess dietary iodine promotes autoimmune thyroiditis; however, the lack of a suitable animal model has hampered investigation of the phenomenon. In this study, different amounts of potassium iodide were added to the diets of chicken strains known to be genetically susceptible to autoimmune thyroiditis. Administration of iodine during the first 10 weeks of life increased the incidence of the disease, as determined by histology and the measurement of autoantibodies to triiodothyronine, thyroxine, and thyroglobulin. Further support for the relation between iodine and autoimmune thyroiditis was provided by an experiment in which iodine-deficient regimens decreased the incidence of thyroid autoantibodies in a highly susceptible strain. These results suggest that excessive consumption of iodine in the United States may be responsible for the increased incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis.