Dendritic cells (DCs) are essential in T cell-mediated destruction of insulin-producing β cells in the islets of Langerhans in type 1 diabetes. In this study, we investigated T cell induction of intra-islet DC maturation during the progression of the disease in both autoimmune-prone NOD and resistant C57BL/6 mice. We demonstrated steady-state capture and retention of unprocessed β cell-derived proteins by semimature intra-islet DCs in both mouse strains. T cell-mediated intra-islet inflammation induced an increase in CD40 and CD80 expression and processing of captured Ag by resident DCs without inducing the expression of the p40 subunit of IL-12/23. Some of the CD40 high intra-islet DCs up-regulated CCR7, and a small number of CD40high DCs bearing unprocessed islet Ags were detected in the pancreatic lymph nodes in mice with acute intra-islet inflammation, demonstrating that T cell-mediated tissue inflammation augments migration of mature resident DCs to draining lymph nodes. Our results identify an amplification loop during the progression of autoimmune diabetes, in which initial T cell infiltration leads to rapid maturation of intra-islet DCs, their migration to lymph nodes, and expanded priming of more autoreactive T cells. Therapeutic interventions that intercept this process may be effective at halting the progression of type 1 diabetes.