Vaccinia virus (VV) proteins that interfere with the host response to infection are of interest because they provide insight into virus-host relationships and may affect the safety and immunogenicity of recombinant VV (rVV) vaccines. Such vaccines need assessment in animal models and with this aim a model of VV infection based on intradermal injection of BALB/c ear pinnae was developed and characterized. In this model, the outcome of infection is affected by the dose of virus inoculated but virus spread is minimal and the mice suffer no signs of systemic illness. Cellular and humoral immune responses to these infections were measured readily and were independent of virus dose over a 100-fold range. Thus the model seems suitable for the analysis of the safety and immunogenicity of VV mutants lacking specific immunomodulatory proteins or bearing foreign antigens.