Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that afflicts millions of people worldwide. It occurs as the consequence of destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells triggered by genetic and environmental factors. The initiation and progression of the disease involves a complicated interaction between β-cells and immune cells of both innate and adaptive systems. Immune cells, such as T cells, macrophages and dendritic cells, have been well documented to play crucial roles in type 1 diabetes pathogenesis. However, the particular actions of neutrophils, which are the most plentiful immune cell type and the first immune cells responding to inflammation, in the etiology of this disease might indeed be unfairly ignored. Progress over the past decades shows that neutrophils might have essential effects on the onset and perpetuation of type 1 diabetes. Neutrophil-derived cytotoxic substances, including degranulation products, cytokines, reactive oxygen species and extracellular traps that are released during the process of neutrophil maturation or activation, could cause destruction to islet cells. In addition, these cells can initiate diabetogenic T cell response and promote type 1 diabetes development through cell–cell interactions with other immune and non-immune cells. Furthermore, relevant antineutrophil therapies have been shown to delay and dampen the progression of insulitis and autoimmune diabetes. Here, we discuss the relationship between neutrophils and autoimmune type 1 diabetes from the aforementioned aspects to better understand the roles of these cells in the initiation and development of type 1 diabetes.