The protozoan intracellular parasites, Theileria parva and Theileria annulata, infect cattle and cause severe and fatal leukocytic proliferative diseases. The proliferation is dependent on the presence of the parasites in the host cell cytoplasm. T. parva-infected cells proliferate permanently in cell culture and exhibit many features characteristic of tumor cells. The proliferation is reversible by treatment with parasite-specific drugs. Constitutive expression of interleukin-2, its receptor and their transcription factor, NF-kappa B, are dependent on the parasite and suggest autocrine growth. Cell-cell contact possibly via T cell adhesion molecules has been shown to stimulate proliferation.