Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a severe chronic disease caused by Leishmania (Leishmania) infantum chagasi. Better knowledge on the effects caused by this disease can help develop adequate clinical management and treatment. Parasitological and immunohistochemical studies were performed golden hamsters Mesocricetus auratus infected with bone marrow from individuals with VL in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, central-west Brazil. The effects of parasitism in the spleen, liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain of the animals were examined. Eighteen hamsters were inoculated intraperitoneally, and six healthy animals were used as negative controls. The animals were kept in the animal house and checked for clinical signs. Specimens of each organ were examined for the presence of amastigotes. Immunohistochemical technique was performed in all brain specimens and organs negative on the direct examination of parasites. Direct examination of amastigotes was positive in the spleen and liver of all infected animals; 33.3% showed the parasite in the kidneys and lungs, and 16.7% in the heart. Parasitic forms were seen in 83.3% (15/18) of the brain examined. Immunohistochemistry confirmed the results of the direct examination, except in two specimens of lung tissue and in the brain specimens. Other studies are needed to further clarify the effect of the parasite in the central nervous system.