Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease characterized by autoreactive T cell-mediated destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells. Loss of beta-cells leads to insulin insufficiency and hyperglycemia, with patients eventually requiring lifelong insulin therapy to maintain normal glycemic control. Since T1D has been historically defined as a disease of immune system dysregulation, there has been little focus on the state and response of beta-cells and how they may also contribute to their own demise. Major hurdles to identifying a cure for T1D include a limited understanding of disease etiology and how functional and transcriptional beta-cell heterogeneity may be involved in disease progression. Recent studies indicate that the beta-cell response is not simply a passive aspect of T1D pathogenesis, but rather an interplay between the beta-cell and the immune system actively contributing to disease. Here, we comprehensively review the current literature describing beta-cell vulnerability, heterogeneity, and contributions to pathophysiology of T1D, how these responses are influenced by autoimmunity, and describe pathways that can potentially be exploited to delay T1D.