The immunologic processes involved in autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD), particularly Graves' disease (GD), are similar to other autoimmune diseases with the emphasis on the antibodies as the most unique aspect. These characteristics include a lymphocytic infiltrate at the target organs, the presence of antigen-reactive T and B cells and antibodies, and the establishment of animal models of GD by antibody transfer or immunization with antigen. Similar to other autoimmune diseases, risk factors for GD include the presence of multiple susceptibility genes, including certain HLA alleles, and the TSHR gene itself. In addition, a variety of known risk factors and precipitators have been characterized including the influence of sex and sex hormones, pregnancy, stress, infection, iodine and other potential environmental factors. The pathogenesis of GD is likely the result of a breakdown in the tolerance mechanisms, both at central and peripheral levels. Different subsets of T and B cells together with their regulatory populations play important roles in the propagation and maintenance of the disease process. Understanding different mechanistic in the complex system biology interplay will help to identify unique factors contributing to the AITD pathogenesis.