T cell activation is subject to tight regulation to avoid inappropriate responses to self antigens. Here we show that genetic deficiency in the ubiquitin ligase Peli1 caused hyperactivation of T cells and rendered T cells refractory to suppression by regulatory T cells and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). As a result, Peli1-deficient mice spontaneously developed autoimmunity characterized by multiorgan inflammation and autoantibody production. Peli1 deficiency resulted in the nuclear accumulation of c-Rel, a member of the NF-kappa B family of transcription factors with pivotal roles in T cell activation. Peli1 negatively regulated c-Rel by mediating its Lys48 (K48) ubiquitination. Our results identify Peli1 as a critical factor in the maintenance of peripheral T cell tolerance and demonstrate a previously unknown mechanism of c-Rel regulation.