The granulomatous lesions in bovine paratuberculosis have been classified into two types, i.e., the lepromatous type and the tuberculoid type. To clarify the immunopathologic mechanisms at the site of infection, we compared inflammatory cytokine gene expression between the two types of lesions. Samples were obtained from noninfected control cows (n = 5) and naturally infected cows (n = 7) that were diagnosed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and fecal culture test. Although none of the infected cows showed clinical signs, tuberculoid lesions were observed in five cows (tuberculoid group) and lepromatous lesions in two cows (lepromatous group). Among the cytokines examined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Th2-type cytokines interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-10, and Th1-type cytokine IL-2 were expressed more significantly in the lepromatous group than in the tuberculoid (P < 0.01) and noninfected groups (P < 0.05). No statistical differences were observed in the expression of interferon-gamma, IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, and GM-CSF among lepromatous, tuberculoid, and noninfected groups. Expression of proinflammatory cytokine IL-12 mRNA, however, did not differ among the three groups; IL-18 was expressed at lower levels in the lepromatous group than in the tuberculoid group and the noninfected group (P < 0.0001). Moreover, the number of cells in which IL-18 mRNAs were detected by in situ hybridization was markedly decreased in the lepromatous group. These results indicate that the formation of lepromatous-type lesions or tuberculoid-type lesions may be influenced by alterations in Th1/Th2-type cytokine production and that IL-18 may play an important role in a Th1-to-Th2 switch in paratuberculosis.