Interleukin (IL)-2 plays a crucial role in the maintenance of natural immunologic self-tolerance. Neutralization of circulating IL-2 by anti–IL-2 monoclonal antibody for a limited period elicits autoimmune gastritis in BALB/c mice. Similar treatment of diabetes-prone nonobese diabetic mice triggers early onset of diabetes and produces a wide spectrum of T cell–mediated autoimmune diseases, including gastritis, thyroiditis, sialadenitis, and notably, severe neuropathy. Such treatment selectively reduces the number of Foxp3-expressing CD25+ CD4+ T cells, but not CD25− CD4+ T cells, in the thymus and periphery of normal and thymectomized mice. IL-2 neutralization inhibits physiological proliferation of peripheral CD25+ CD4+ T cells that are presumably responding to normal self-antigens, whereas it is unable to inhibit their lymphopenia-induced homeostatic expansion in a T cell–deficient environment. In normal naive mice, CD25low CD4+ nonregulatory T cells actively transcribe the IL-2 gene and secrete IL-2 protein in the physiological state. IL-2 is thus indispensable for the peripheral maintenance of natural CD25+ CD4+ regulatory T cells (T reg cells). The principal physiological source of IL-2 for the maintenance of T reg cells appears to be other T cells, especially CD25low CD4+ activated T cells, which include self-reactive T cells. Furthermore, impairment of this negative feedback loop via IL-2 can be a cause and a predisposing factor for autoimmune disease.