We report that the onset of Th1 insulitis is preceded by a rise of interferon-gamma inducing factor (IGIF) mRNA expression in the spleen. This systemic shift towards Th1 reactivities was underlined by a close correlation of IGIF and IL-12p40 mRNA levels in the spleen, as determined by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Cyclophosphamide-induced IGIF expression was also observed in MHC congenic NOR mice, but not in MHC class II-incompatible NON mice. The systemic rise of IGIF was followed by the development of destructive Th1-associated intra-insulitis. Interestingly, immunohistochemistry showed IL-4-positive cells evenly dispersed throughout the infiltrate, while IFN-gamma-positive cells were restricted to the vicinity of beta-cells. We conclude that cyclophosphamide induces a systemic shift in antigen presenting cells towards favouring Th1 responses, in an MHC dependent manner. Despite this general bias in immune reactivity, activation of Th1 cells in insulitis occurs only close to beta-cells, indicating a crucial role of antigen presentation by beta-cells or in their immediate vicinity.