The suitability of a mouse model for host response in the induction of alveolar bone loss by Porphyromonas gingivalis was explored. The mouths of immunocompetent and severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice were infected with P. gingivalis ATCC 53977. P. gingivalis was not isolated from the mouths of these mice before infection, but was present at least 42 days after infection. P. gingivalis-specific IgG was present in sera from the infected, immunocompetent mice at the end of these experiments (42 days). Specific IgG was not present in sham-infected or uninfected immunocompetent mice, nor in any immunodeficient mice. Specific IgM was not present in any sera at 42 days. Infected, immunocompetent mice of two strains showed significant bone loss in comparison to sham-infected or uninfected immunocompetent mice (p < 0.05). Infected SCID mice, which are genetically lacking both B and T lymphocytes, also showed significant bone loss compared with sham-infected or uninfected SCID mice (p < 0.05). However, the degree of bone loss was greater in immunocompetent than immunodeficient mice: the relative amount of bone in infected mice was 77% of that in sham-infected immunocompetent mice, and 86% of sham values in SCID mice (p = 0.025). Thus oral infection of mice is a feasible model for studying the effects of host response on P. gingivalis-induced alveolar bone loss. Because bone loss was induced both in immunocompetent and SCID mice but was greater in immunocompetent mice, it appears that neither B nor T cells are absolutely necessary for bone resorption in response to P. gingivalis infection but they may significantly modulate the degree of resorption.