Furious and paralytic rabies differ in clinical manifestations and survival periods. The authors studied magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and cytokine and virus distribution in rabies-infected dogs of both clinical types. MRI examination of the brain and upper spinal cord was performed in two furious and two paralytic dogs during the early clinical stage. Rabies viral nucleoprotein RNA and 18 cytokine mRNAs at 12 different brain regions were studied. Rabies viral RNA was examined in four furious and four paralytic dogs during the early stage, and in one each during the late stage. Cytokine mRNAs were examined in two furious and two paralytic dogs during the early stage and in one each during the late stage. Larger quantities of rabies viral RNA were found in the brains of furious than in paralytic dogs. Interleukin-1beta and interferon-gamma mRNAs were found exclusively in the brains of paralytic dogs during the early stage. Abnormal hypersignal T2 changes were found at hippocampus, hypothalamus, brainstem, and spinal cord of paralytic dogs. More widespread changes of less intensity were seen in furious dog brains. During the late stage of infection, brains from furious and paralytic rabid dogs were similarly infected and there were less detectable cytokine mRNAs. These results suggest that the early stage of furious dog rabies is characterized by a moderate inflammation (as indicated by MRI lesions and brain cytokine detection) and a severe virus neuroinvasiveness. Paralytic rabies is characterized by delayed viral neuroinvasion and a more intense inflammation than furious rabies. Dogs may be a good model for study of the host inflammatory responses that may modulate rabies virus neuroinvasiveness.