Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) is usually a fatal disease in rabbits which has spread rapidly across the continents. While previous studies suggested persistence in rabbits to be an important factor in the epidemiology, the relevance of field virus infection of immune rabbits has not been investigated in experimentally infected animals before. This report describes for the first time the persistence of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) genome for at least 15 weeks in rabbits immunized with an inactivated vaccine as well as a subunit vaccine and subsequently challenged with virulent RHDV. The viral RNA loads were determined by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. No conspicuous association of the detectable amount of RHDV RNA with the type of vaccine, the time after infection and--with one exception--the level of RHDV-specific antibodies in the immunized animals was observed. The results presented in this study are an urgent evidence for the existence of carrier animals as an important factor in the epidemiology of RHD.