1. To elucidate mechanisms for the generation of the detergent-insoluble, proteinase K-resistant prion protein (PrP(Sc)) from the detergent-soluble, proteinase K-sensitive PrP (PrP(C)) and the replication of the infectious agent in prion diseases, we followed the kinetics of detergent-insoluble PrP and PrP(Sc) levels, infectious titers, and associated pathological changes in the brains of mice inoculated with a mouse-adapted Creutzfeldt Jakob disease agent. 2. PrP(Sc) in brain homogenate and detergent-insoluble PrP enriched by two-cycle ultracentrifugation were detected by immunoblotting and their relative amounts were estimated according to a standard curve plotted between the amount of PrP and signal intensity on immunoblotting. The titer of infectivity was determined by the incubation periods of mice inoculated with the unfractionated homogenate on the basis of a standard curve plotted between the titer and incubation period. 3. Detergent-insoluble PrP became detectable 4 weeks postinoculation (p.i.) well before the detection of PrP(Sc). The low level of detergent-insoluble PrP continued until dramatic accumulation occurred at 14 weeks p.i., correlating well with the accumulation of PrP(Sc) and development of pathological changes. The infectious titer was undetectable at 4 weeks p.i. and its logarithmic increase occurred 10 weeks p.i. preceding the logarithmic accumulation of PrPs. 4. The lag time of detergent-insoluble PrP accumulation and the discrepancy between infectious titers and PrPs observed during the early period after inoculation suggest a slow and rate-limiting step for the detergent-insoluble PrP to become the infectious agent-associated PrP(Sc).