Stage-specific monoclonal antibodies have been used to investigate the bradyzoite-tachyzoite interconversion of Toxoplasma gondii in vitro. The differentiation of bradyzoites isolated from brain cysts (strains 76K and BQNC2) and grown in culture proceeded through intermediate stages which expressed both the specific markers of bradyzoites (P36, P34, P21, and P18) and a specific marker of tachyzoites (SAG1-P30). Differentiation started before parasite division, but large vacuoles containing intermediate stages were also found, suggesting that these were able to multiply. Intermediate stages were also observed during the differentiation of peritoneal tachyzoites (strain Prugniaud) into bradyzoites in vitro. Triggering of bradyzoite protein synthesis is not a single event since one of the four bradyzoite-specific proteins (P21) always appeared later than the others during bradyzoite differentiation. During interconversion, heterogeneous vacuoles containing parasites expressing different levels of bradyzoite or tachyzoite proteins were observed. This observation together with the fact that differentiation is not synchronous within a culture or within a host cell suggest a complex triggering process.