The gut immune system protects against mucosal pathogens, maintains a mutualistic relationship with the microbiota, and establishes tolerance against food antigens. This requires a balance between immune effector responses and induction of tolerance. Disturbances of this strictly regulated balance can lead to infections or the development inflammatory diseases and allergies. Production of secretory IgA is a unique effector function at mucosal surfaces, and basal mechanisms regulating IgA production have been the focus of much recent research. These investigations have aimed at understanding how long-term IgA-mediated mucosal immunity can best be achieved by oral or sublingual vaccination, or at analyzing the relationship between IgA production, the composition of the gut microbiota, and protection from allergies and autoimmunity. This research has lead to a better understanding of the IgA system; but at the same time seemingly conflicting data have been generated. Here, we discuss how gut IgA production is controlled, with special focus on how differences between T cell-dependent and T cell-independent IgA production may explain some of these discrepancies.