Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is an autoimmune disease whose etiology is complex. Both genetic susceptibility, which is polygenic, and environmental factors, including virus infections, appear to be involved in the development of IDDM. In this review, we have tried to balance the discussion of diabetes by examining both immunological and virological perspectives. Several mouse models, including viral and non-viral models, have been used to study diabetes. For this review, we include lessons gleaned from the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse and from mouse models of coxsackievirus- and encephalomyocarditis-virus-induced diabetes. Finally, we present a multi-stage model in which several viral infections, including the coxsackieviruses, are postulated to play a role in the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta cells.