Immunization with DNA can induce humoral and cell-mediated immune responses, both of which are important in conferring immunity to Toxoplasma gondii. The efficacy of genetic vaccination with a cDNA encoding the T. gondii SAG1 (P30) surface antigen was evaluated. Sera of immunized mice showed recognition of T. gondii tachyzoites by immunofluorescence and exhibited high titers of antibody to SAG1 by ELISA. SAG1-stimulated splenocytes from vaccinated mice produced primarily interferon-gamma and interleukin-2. Vaccinated mice survived challenge with 80 tissue cysts of ME49 strain, whereas all control mice died; challenge with 20 tissue cysts resulted in fewer brain cysts, compared with controls. Challenge of vaccinated rats with VEG strain oocysts resulted in a reduction in brain cysts. No protection was observed when mice were challenged with the highly virulent RH strain tachyzoites. These results suggest that nucleic acid vaccination can provide protection against T. gondii infection in mice.