Shigellosis is a worldwide disease, characterized by abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, and the passage of blood- and mucus-streaked stools. Rhesus monkeys and other primates are the only animals that are naturally susceptible to shigellosis. A suitable animal model is required for the pre-clinical evaluation of vaccines candidates. In this study, the minimal dose of Shigella dysenteriae1 1617 strain required to produce dysentery in four of five (80% attack rate) monkeys using an escalating dose range for three groups [2 × 108, 2 × 109 and 2 × 1010 colony forming unit (CFU)] was determined. In addition, the monkeys were re-infected. The identified optimal challenge dose was 2 × 109 CFU; this dose elicited 60% protection in monkeys when they were re-challenged with a one log higher dose (2 × 1010 CFU). The challenge dose, 2 × 1010 CFU, produced severe dysentery in all monkeys, with one monkey dying within 24 h, elicited 100% protection when re-challenged with the same dose. All monkeys exhibited immune responses. This study concludes that the rhesus monkey model closely mimics the disease and immune response seen in humans and is a suitable animal model for the pre-clinical evaluation of Shigella vaccine candidates. Prior infection with the 1617 strain can protect monkeys against subsequent re-challenges with homologous strains.