In order to study cytokine production profile (IFN-gamma, IL-4 and TNF-alpha) and TCRBV-gene usage of peripheral autoreactive T cells from IDDM patients, we have generated antigen-specific T cell lines with either tetanus toxoid, insulinoma membranes or a single beta-cell protein, recombinant ICA69, which has been shown to be a target of both autoantibodies and T cells in IDDM. By semi-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, we have determined the composition of the T cell receptor repertoire of these T cell lines and compared this with the general peripheral repertoire. T cell responses against beta-cell antigens and tetanus toxoid (TT) were shown to be associated with IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha production, suggestive of a Th1-like phenotype of the T-cell lines. The production of IFN-gamma was significantly higher in T-cell lines generated with ISG compared to those generated with TT. The cytokine production profiles of the T-cell lines generated with ICA69 did not provide an obvious explanation for the inverse relation between cellular and humoral responses to this protein observed earlier. Upon stimulation with beta-cell antigens, outgrowth of T cells using a restricted set of TCRBV elements was observed in newly diagnosed IDDM patients. However, this skewing in TCRBV-gene expression was patient-specific rather than antigen-associated, since the T-cell repertoire that is used for the recognition of these antigens was, overall, heterogeneous.