A chronic experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) was produced in Hartley guinea pigs with bovine white matter proteolipid protein (PLP), in which the levels of myelin basic protein (MBP) and galactocerebroside (GC) were less than 0.014% and 0.13%, respectively, by our method of purification. Cells of an MBP-specific T-cell line did not proliferate in the presence of 100 micrograms of PLP and antigen-presenting cells. Eleven animals were sensitized with 250 micrograms of PLP in Freund's complete adjuvant. Three guinea pigs developed paraplegia about 45 days after sensitization. Histological examination of the three animals revealed marked demyelinating lesions in the spinal cord, particularly in the dorsal columns and subpial regions of the lateral and anterior columns. Another guinea pig without apparent clinical symptoms had demyelinating plaques in the dorsal columns of the spinal cord and periventricular white matter of the brain. Antibodies to PLP were highly elevated in the animals with demyelinating plaques but antibodies to MBP and GC were not elevated in the serum samples. Skin response to PLP was positive in sensitized animals, but was not related to the clinical state. Since none of four strain 13 guinea pigs developed chronic EAE, it seems to be strain specific. These results suggest that PLP is encephalitogenic and produces demyelination in the central nervous system without contamination by MBP or GC in Hartley guinea pigs.