Self-antigen-specific T cells are prevalent in the mature adaptive immune system but are regulated through multiple mechanisms of tolerance. However, inflammatory conditions such as tissue injury may allow these T cells to break tolerance and trigger autoimmunity. To understand how the T cell repertoire responds to the presentation of self-antigen under highly stimulatory conditions, we use peptide:major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II tetramers to track the behavior of endogenous CD4+ T cells with specificity to a lung-expressed self-antigen in mouse models of immune-mediated lung injury. Acute injury results in the exclusive expansion of CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) that is dependent on self-antigen recognition and interleukin-2 (IL-2). Conversely, conventional CD4+ T cells of the same self-antigen specificity remain unresponsive even following Treg ablation. Thus, the self-antigen-specific CD4+ T cell repertoire is poised to serve a regulatory function during acute tissue damage to limit further damage and the possibility of autoimmunity.