Neospora caninum is a recently identified coccidian parasite which was, until 1988, misdiagnosed as Toxoplasma gondii. It causes paralysis and death in dogs and neonatal mortality and abortion in cattle, sheep, goats and horses. The life-cycle of Neospora has not yet been elucidated. The only two stages identified so far are tissue cysts and intracellularly dividing tachyzoites. Very little is known about the biology of this species. We have set up a fluorescence-based adhesion/invasion assay in order to investigate the interaction of N. caninum tachyzoites with bovine aorta endothelial (BAE) cells in vitro. Treatment of both host cells and parasites with metabolic inhibitors determined the metabolic requirements for adhesion and invasion. Chemical and enzymatic modifications of parasite and endothelial cell surfaces were used in order to obtain information on the nature of cell surface components responsible for the interaction between parasite and host. Electron microscopical investigations defined the ultrastructural characteristics of the adhesion and invasion process, and provided information on the intracellular development of the parasites.