Previous work from this laboratory has demonstrated that cloned T lymphocytes from spleens of Yersinia-infected mice can transfer immunity against Y. enterocolitica into naive animals. In this study, we investigated the cellular immune response to parenteral infection of Yersinia-resistant C57 BL/6 mice with the highly virulent Y. enterocolitica strain WA of serotype O:8 employing immunohistological methods. In the course of the infection the spleen and the liver were the organs most extensively affected. Histologically, three different patterns of inflammatory reactions could be observed: (i) small non-pyogenic granuloma-like lesions (in the liver only), (ii) microabscesses lacking a sharp outline, and (iii) larger abscesses disclosing a distinct cellular border (spleen and liver). Immunohistologically, Y. enterocolitica was detectable within abscesses but not in the small granuloma-like lesions present in the liver. CD11b/18 positive cells (= Mac-1-antigen expressed on macrophages, monocytes, granulocytes and NK-cells) could be shown in Yersinia-induced lesions. The number of these cells correlated with the extent of tissue alterations induced by Y. enterocolitica. More strikingly, we were able to demonstrate for the first time that both CD4 (helper) and CD8 (cytotoxic) T lymphocytes are present in Yersinia-induced lesions. In summary, we could demonstrate for the first time that granuloma-like lesions can be induced by Y. enterocolitica. Moreover, we supported our recent study suggesting that T lymphocytes are probably involved in the immune response against Y. enterocolitica in mice.