The incidence and effect of tissue cyst rupture in the brains of mice chronically infected with Toxoplasma gondii was studied by immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy. Cyst rupture was extremely rare (2 of 750 tissue cysts) irrespective of the interval post-infection. The event was associated with a rapid cell-mediated immune response, giving rise to microglial or inflammatory nodules. Macrophages were observed to engulf and degrade the cystozoites and cyst debris. Initially, the nodules contained large amounts of immunologically reactive material, but this was degraded with the majority (94%) of lesions containing no recognizable parasites or Toxoplasma antigens. There was little evidence of parasite multiplication or new cyst formation associated with cyst rupture. This study shows that although intermittent cyst rupture occurs, in immunocompetent individuals the immune response limits the potential damage from the release of large numbers of infective organisms to small microglial/inflammatory nodules.