Clinical manifestations of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) range from mild chronic to acute, sometimes fulminant hepatitis. However, it is unknown how the progression to fatal hepatitis occurs. We developed a mouse model of fatal AIH by inducing a concurrent loss of forkhead box P3+ regulatory T cells and programmed cell death-1 (PD-1)-mediated signaling. In this model, dysregulated follicular helper T cells in the spleen are responsible for the induction, and the C-C chemokine receptor 6/C-C chemokine ligand 20 axis is crucial for the migration of these T cells into the liver. Using this fatal AIH model, we aimed to clarify key molecules triggering fatal AIH progression. During progression, T-bet together with interferon (IFN)-γ and C-X-C chemokine receptor (CXCR)3 were highly expressed in the inflamed liver, suggesting helper T (Th)1-type inflammation. T cells that dominantly expanded in the spleen and the inflamed liver were CXCR3-expressing CD8+ T cells; depletion of these CD8+ T cells suppressed AIH progression. Expression of one CXCR3 ligand, chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand (CXCL)9, was elevated in the liver. CXCL9-expressing macrophages/Kupffer cells were colocalized with infiltrating T cells, and in vivo administration of anti-CXCL9 suppressed AIH progression. In addition, serum levels of interleukin (IL)-18, but not IL-1β, were elevated during progression, and dendritic cells in the spleen and liver highly produced IL-18. In vivo administration of anti-IL-18R suppressed the increase of splenic CXCR3+ T cells and the progression to fatal AIH. Moreover, tumor necrosis factor alpha, but not IFN-γ, was involved in up-regulating CXCL9 in the liver and for increased serum levels of IL-18. Conclusion: These data suggest that, in our mouse model, fatal progression of AIH is mediated by IL-18-dependent differentiation of T cells into Th1 cells and effector T cells, respectively, and that CXCR3-CXCL9 axis-dependent migration of those T cells is crucial for fatal progression. (Hepatology 2014;60:224–236)