Susceptibility to most autoimmune diseases is dependent on polygenic inheritance, environmental factors, and poorly defined stochastic events. One of the significant challenges facing autoimmune disease research is in identifying the specific events that trigger loss of tolerance and autoimmunity. Although many intrinsic factors, including age, sex, and genetics, contribute to autoimmunity, extrinsic factors such as drugs, chemicals, microbes, or other environmental factors can also act as important initiators. This review explores how certain extrinsic factors, namely, drugs and chemicals, can promote the development of autoimmunity, focusing on a few better characterized agents that, in most instances, have been shown to produce autoimmune manifestations in human populations. Mechanisms of autoimmune disease induction are discussed in terms of research obtained using specific animal models. Although a number of different pathways have been delineated for drug/chemical-induced autoimmunity, some similarities do exist, and a working model is proposed.