Promastigotes of Leishmania donovani that had been subcultured in modified Tobie's medium for 2 to 3 years showed decreased infectivity and lack of virulence for hamsters and mice compared to newly transformed promastigotes. Amastigotes derived from these long-term promastigote cultures decreased in number rapidly in hamsters, but only slightly in mice, over a 48-day period. In cultured mouse and hamster macrophages infected in vitro, amastigotes derived from long-term cultures rapidly decreased to low numbers, which persisted. The same pattern was seen in macrophages treated with catalase, an inhibitor of the oxygen-dependent killing mechanism of the macrophage. Promastigotes from long-term cultures also differed from virulent first-passage promastigotes in size, growth patterns in Tobie's medium, and in the quantities of some of their antigens.