The process of mononuclear cell extravasation from the blood into the islets of Langerhans in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice is dependent on the expression of a set of molecules, most of which remain to be defined. The observation that vascular addressins are expressed in inflamed islets raises the issue of the involvement of one of their ligands, L-selectin, in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes. Treatment of NOD females with Mel-14, an antibody specific for L-selectin, reduced the spontaneous development of both insulitis and diabetes. Pretreatment of diabetic donors with Mel-14 decreased the capacity of their splenocytes to transfer the disease. However, the treatment of recipients had no effect on the transfer of diabetes by untreated diabetogenic splenocytes. To reconcile these apparently conflicting results, we fractionated spleen T cells from diabetic mice according to L-selectin expression. Diabetogenic cells were found only in the L-selectin subpopulation. Thus, diabetogenic cells in adult mice share phenotypic characteristics with activated/memory cells, and enter the pancreas using L-selectin-independent migratory pathways.