Long term effects of in vivo treatment with human rIL-1 beta on diabetogenesis and thyroid disease were determined in the Biobreeding rat. Administration of high dose (10 micrograms/kg) IL-1 beta accelerated the onset of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus compared to saline-injected controls. High dose treatment resulted in goiter development, pronounced LT, reduced serum T4 levels, and overall growth reduction. In contrast, low dose IL-1 beta (0.5 microgram/kg) administration significantly reduced the frequency of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (48%) compared to placebo (86%) and high dose IL-1 beta (93%) treatment groups. Rats protected by low dose IL-1 beta had unaffected growth rates and minimal to no pancreatic and thyroid pathology. Our results demonstrate that exogenous administration of IL-1 beta modulates Biobreeding rat idiopathic autoimmune diabetes and thyroid disease in a dose-dependent manner.