We generated a mouse model (MIP-Luc-VU-NOD) that enables non-invasive bioluminescence imaging (BLI) of beta cell loss during the progression of autoimmune diabetes and determined the relationship between BLI and disease progression. MIP-Luc-VU-NOD mice displayed insulitis and a decline in bioluminescence with age which correlated with beta cell mass, plasma insulin, and pancreatic insulin content. Bioluminescence declined gradually in female MIP-Luc-VU-NOD mice, reaching less than 50% of the initial BLI at 10 weeks of age, whereas hyperglycemia did not ensue until mice were at least 16 weeks old. Mice that did not become diabetic maintained insulin secretion and had less of a decline in bioluminescence than mice that became diabetic. Bioluminescence measurements predicted a decline in beta cell mass prior to the onset of hyperglycemia and tracked beta cell loss. This model should be useful for investigating the fundamental processes underlying autoimmune diabetes and developing new therapies targeting beta cell protection and regeneration.