Fifty-five pregnant BALB/c mice received various doses of Brucella abortus virulent strain 2308 intraperitoneally on day 9 of gestation, and uteri and spleens were examined at 3, 5, 7, and 9 days post-inoculation to study the pathogenesis of infection. A dose of 10(5.7) B. abortus organisms produced a severe, necrosuppurative placentitis. Bacteria multiplied preferentially within the placenta and were identified within the rough endoplasmic reticulum of trophoblast giant cells and within the visceral yolk sac endoderm. Abortions did not occur, but infarction of the labyrinth region of severely affected placentas occasionally resulted in fetal death. The severity of infection in the spleens of nonpregnant mice receiving the same challenge dose was not significantly different from that in the spleens of challenged pregnant mice. These results suggest that the sensitivity of the pregnant mouse to placental brucellosis is not due to a generalized immunosuppression but rather may involve a combination of local suppression of the immune response and a susceptible cell population suitable for Brucella colonization and replication. Experimental murine brucellosis resembles ruminant brucellosis and provides a model to study the intracellular replication of B. abortus in trophoblasts.