The persistence of Toxoplasma gondii tissue cysts in organs of cats (definitive host) and rodents (intermediate hosts) was studied. Nine cats, 12 rats, and 12 mice were fed T. gondii oocysts and their organs were digested in pepsin and then bioassayed for bradyzoites in mice. Of 9 cats killed 37 or 51 days after feeding 10(2) (2 cats), 10(3) (3 cats) or 10(4) (4 cats) oocysts of the VEG strain, tissue cysts were found in each cat; in the tongue of 9, in the heart of 5, in the brain of 4, and in the eyes of 1 cat. The dose had no effect on the distribution of tissue cysts in cats. Twelve rats were each fed 10(5) oocysts of the VEG strain of T. gondii and killed 21, 29, 64 or 237 days later. At each time-period, 11 tissues of 3 rats were pooled and bioassayed in mice. Tissue cysts were found in the brain, skeletal muscle, heart and kidneys of rats at each killing time; in the lungs, intestines, and mesenteric lymph nodes in 3 of 4 instances; in the tongue, liver, and eyes in 2 instances and in the spleen in 1 instance. Also, using the same procedures and sampling the same 11 tissues as used for rats, tissue cysts were seen in all organs except in the tongue and liver of 3 mice killed on day 82 after feeding the VEG strain. In 9 mice (3 with each strain) fed oocysts of the ME-49, GT-1, or P89 T. gondii strain and killed 62-130 days later, tissue cysts were found consistently only in the brain. Thus, in rats and mice, most tissue cysts were found in the brain and rarely in the tongue. This was in marked contrast to the distribution of tissue cysts in cats.