Type 1 diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune disease characterized by progressive destruction of pancreatic beta cells by genetic and environmental factors which leads to an absolute dependence of insulin for survival and maintenance of health. Although the majority of mechanisms of beta cell destruction remain unclear, many molecules, including proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, are implicated in the development of beta cell damage. Furthermore, beta cell destruction is enhanced by the Th1 and Th17 subsets of CD4+ T cells. In contrast, there are mechanisms involved in the maintenance of peripheral tolerance by regulatory T cells, the function of which depends on the pleiotropic cytokine transforming growth factor beta. Development and progression of renal injuries in patients with diabetic nephropathy are also associated with several growth factors and proinflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha, insulin-like growth factor-1, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, vascular endothelial growth factor, and transforming growth factor beta. Although the pathogenic mechanisms underlying type 1 diabetes and diabetic nephropathy are principally different, i.e., autoimmunity and inflammation, some common factors, including susceptibility genes and proinflammatory cytokines, are involved in both mechanisms, including infiltrating cell recruitment, upregulation of other cytokines and chemokines, or apoptosis.