An IgM capture ELISA using heterologous antibodies was developed to evaluate the kinetics of the humoral immune response in dogs experimentally infected with Toxoplasma gondii RH strain. Detection of parasite in tissues from inoculated dogs was evaluated by mouse bioassay and immunohistochemical techniques. Serum samples were obtained at regular intervals up to 62 days post-inoculation (p.i.), when the animals were necropsied and their tissues examined. Antibody levels were measured by IgM capture ELISA (McELISA), indirect hemagglutination (IHA), indirect fluorescent antibody test (IgG-IFAT) and indirect immunoenzymatic assay (IgG-ELISA). All dogs seroconverted but only one exhibited severe clinical signs of infection. IgM antibodies were detected by McELISA from the seventh day on, with decreasing IgM levels around the 27th day. Similar results were obtained from IHA, although McELISA showed earlier and longer detection of IgM antibodies. IgG antibodies were detected from the seventh day on, and throughout the period of observation. Immunohistochemical findings and mouse bioassay revealed the presence of free tachyzoites in tissues of the clinically affected dog only. These results suggest that T. gondii acute infection in dogs shows a remarkably transient IgM synthesis, and this feature may constitute an important marker of active infection. Furthermore, McELISA was shown to be a potential tool to diagnose canine toxoplasmosis.