Human listeriosis is a food-borne disease of immunosuppressed or previously healthy adults. The repeated oral administration of a sublethal dose (5x10(9)colony-forming units) of Listeria monocytogenes for 7 or 10 consecutive days led to the development of severe central nervous system (CNS) lesions in 25% of experimental mice. Histopathological examination of the brain revealed rhombencephalitis and ventriculitis as two distinct inflammatory patterns, resembling those seen in human listeriosis. This model would seem to be potentially useful for research on pathogenesis, predisposing factors and therapy in CNS listeriosis in man. 1999 W.B. Saunders and Company Ltd.