To analyze the control of self tolerance to tissue-specific Ag, we have constructed C57BL/6 (H-2b) transgenic mice that express allogeneic class II (I-Ad) molecules exclusively on pancreatic islet cells. By a number of criteria, including I-Ad mRNA, and tissue and cell surface I-Ad protein levels, the islet cells appear to be expressing levels of I-Ad similar to B lymphocytes. Although one of the transgenic lines that expresses only the beta-chain occasionally displays slightly elevated glucose levels, this hyperglycemia is not enhanced when alpha and beta are coexpressed, allowing for cell surface I-Ad expression. None of the mice examined has demonstrated any autoimmune reaction to the I-Ad+ islet cells. Despite this apparent lack of recognition of the I-Ad+ islet cells, these animals demonstrate no reduction in the in vitro MLR generated to the same MHC molecule. Therefore, these mice remain functionally tolerant to the transgene product without inactivating those T cells that can recognize this same MHC molecule in vitro.