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Autoantibodies to insulin arise spontaneously in the insulin autoimmune syndrome and in type I diabetes. In addition, administration of insulin to individuals without autoimmune disease routinely results in Abs that bind autologous hormone. These observations and findings in transgenic models of tolerance led to an inference that physiological levels of hormones and growth factors, such as insulin, are not sufficient to induce tolerance in B cells, a state termed clonal ignorance. In contrast, we have discovered that virtually all conventional B cells expressing a low affinity anti-insulin transgene interact with endogenous insulin and are effectively silenced for Ig production and for T cell-dependent immune responses. A fraction of transgenic B cells escapes silencing and functions autonomously to produce insulin Abs that may lower fasting blood sugars similar to an insulin autoimmune syndrome. These B cells have characteristics of a B1-like subset and are depleted by hypotonic peritoneal lysis. These findings question the concept of clonal ignorance and show that physiological concentrations of Ag may effectively silence conventional B cells even when the affinity for autoantigen is low. Self-reactivity may arise in the repertoire because of compartmental differences that govern the fate of B cells and not as a result of true clonal ignorance.