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To establish suitable immunobiological parameters for in vivo testing of new antileishmanial compounds in the golden hamster model of visceral leishmaniasis, two groups of 8 animals were infected each with 105or 107stationary promastigotes by the intracardiac route and the clinical and immunoparasitological features were monitored up to day 155 after infection. All animals became infected at both doses, although significant differences were observed between parasite burdens in liver and spleen. The mean number of parasites in animals infected with 107promastigotes increased by 9.5 times in liver and by 43.1 times in spleen compared with those infected with 105promastigotes. In animals given the higher dose, the outcome of the disease occurred between days 75 and 90 after infection, whereas no signs of disease were apparent in those given the lower infecting dose. Positive antibody (IgG) responses were detected earlier (week 5-7 after infection) in animals infected with the higher dose than in those infected with the lower dose (week 8-10 after infection), but these responses did not correlate with individual parasitological loads in liver and spleen. An inverse correlation was observed between infecting doses and in vitro spleen lymphocyte proliferation against mitogens (ConA). The proportion of CD4+and CD19+spleen cell increased in animals given the higher infection, whereas it decreased in those given the lower infection compared to naive controls.