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Candida albicans, a dimorphic fungus that switches from yeast to filamentous forms, is a major cause of complicating systemic infection in intensive care patients. The aim of this study was to compare the pathogenic potential of C. albicans yeast and filamentous forms.Separate groups of mice were inoculated either intravenously or orally with C. albicans CAF2 (wild type), HLC54 (yeast forms defective in filament formation), or BCa2-10 (constitutively filamentous). Mice were killed 1, 7, 14, and 21 days after intravenous C. albicans and kidneys and liver were quantitatively cultured; cohort groups were observed for mortality. Mice were pretreated with antibiotics for 3 days before oral inoculation with C. albicans, and killed 3 days later with dexamethasone administered for the latter 3 days; at sacrifice, the mesenteric lymph nodes and kidneys were cultured to monitor extraintestinal dissemination of C. albicans.University teaching hospital research laboratory.Female, Swiss Webster, adult mice.In intravenously inoculated mice, mortality was highest with wild-type C. albicans CAF2 (92%), intermediate with HLC54 (56%), and not detected with constitutively filamentous BCa2-10 (0%); BCa2-10 was cleared from the kidney and liver, but CAF2 and HLC54 were recovered at approximately 105–7/g kidney and 104–5/g liver. There was only occasional mortality in orally inoculated mice and the numbers of cecal C. albicans CAF2 and HLC54 were similarly high (approximately 10/g), whereas numbers of cecal BCa2-10 were at least 100-fold lower. Extraintestinal dissemination was greatest with HLC54, intermediate with CAF2, and undetectable with BCa2-10.Of the three C. albicans strains studied, wild-type CAF2 was most virulent in intravenously inoculated mice and HLC54 (defective in filament formation) was most virulent in orally inoculated mice. The constitutively filamentous BCa2-10 was avirulent in both models, suggesting that filamentous forms by themselves might not be critically important for C. albicans virulence.