Many in vitro systems have been used to cultivate Pneumocystis, but only limited parasite growth has been obtained by different authors. A reliable in vitro system enabling a sustained propagation of Pneumocystis appears to be an important condition for a better definition of the transmission of P. carinii pneumonia. In this work, Pneumocystis in vitro culture was performed on monolayers of L2 rat lung epithelial-like cells. Ultrastructural assessment revealed that culture parasites were structurally intact. Pneumocystis culture samples were intratracheally inoculated into corticosteroid-treated nude rats (nonlatently infected by P. carinii), which developed P. carinii pneumonia at 40 days postinoculation. The infectious power of parasites obtained in vitro was 7-10 times higher than that of parasites freshly extracted from parasitized rat lung. In summary, the present results show that it is possible to obtain in vitro highly infectious Pneumocystis forms, and this study provides a promising infectivity test for use by investigators working on Pneumocystis in vitro systems.