Previous work has shown that genes within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of the mouse influence resistance and susceptibility to Toxoplasma gondii infection. Initial studies presented here using B10 H-2 congenic and recombinant haplotype mice inoculated via the oral route with the low virulence Beverley strain of T. gondii confirm the D region localization of MHC-linked control of brain cyst number. All B10 mice were, however, exquisitely sensitive to minor changes in virulence of the parasite inoculum resulting in high mortality during the early acute phase of infection. Further experiments examining mortality and brain cyst number in BALB MHC congenic mice inoculated via different routes indicated that the BALB background would provide a more favourable genetic environment in which to analyse kinetics of MHC controlled immune regulation following infection via the natural (oral) route. In studies comparing d and k haplotype mice a dramatic inverse relationship between splenic CD4:CD8 T cell ratios and brain cyst number was observed, particularly in the strain (BALB/K; H-2k) most susceptible to high brain cyst numbers and subsequent toxoplasmic encephalitis. Of particular interest was the observation that splenomegaly and the relative increase in the splenic CD8 T cell population preceded and accompanied the very dramatic and rapid increase in brain cyst formation. The results suggest that the too rapid development of a potent anti-parasite response in the viscera may drive the parasite to encyst in the brain.