Analysis of spontaneous hybridomas generated from nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice indicates that the natural autoantibody repertoire of NOD mice is highly active compared with C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice. This property of increased B cell activity is present early in life (4 wk) and persists in older mice of both sexes. Even when selected for binding to a prototypic beta cell Ag, such as insulin, NOD mAb have characteristics of natural autoantibodies that include low avidity and broad specificity for multiple Ags. Analyses of the variable region of Ig H chain (V(H)) and variable region kappa L chain genes expressed by six insulin binding mAb show that V gene segments are often germline encoded and are identical with those used by autoantibodies, especially anti-dsDNA, from systemic autoimmune disease in MRL, NZB/W, and motheaten mice. V(H) genes used by four mAb are derived from the large J558 family and two mAb use V(H)7183 and V(H)Q52 genes. The third complementarity-determining region of Ig H chain of these mAb have limited N segment diversity, and some mAb contain DNA segments indicative of gene replacement. Genetic abnormalities in the regulation of self-reactive B cells may be a feature that is shared between NOD and conventional systemic autoimmune disorders. In NOD, the large pool of self-reactive B cells may fuel autoimmune beta cell destruction by facilitating T-B cell interactions, as evidenced by the identification of one mAb that has undergone Ag-driven somatic hypermutation.