Toxoplasma gondii tissue cyst reactivation is a major pathogenic mechanism in ocular toxoplasmosis, disease associated with AIDS and organ transplantation. The mechanisms associated with cyst formation and reactivation have not been elucidated. The complexity of studying these issues in animal models has led to the development of in vitro tissue culture strategies for cyst formation. In the present study we have adopted the human embryonic lung fibroblast (HEL) as the host cell and have compared the cyst forming abilities of eight clinical isolates. We describe by transmission electron microscopy and quantitative light microscopy the development of cysts in vitro. The numbers of in vitro cysts increased with time for all isolates. Cyst cultures were stabilised by manipulation of the free parasite load, an observation not previously recorded. Thus, in this paper we describe a viable model for the analysis of the mechanisms of Toxoplasma cyst development.