Three aspects of the rat model of HTLV-I/II infection were investigated. (i) The efficacy of HTLV-I-transformed rat cell lines in infecting different strains of rats: WKY and Lewis HTLV-I-transformed cell lines were injected into adult WKY, Lewis and Brown Norway rats, representing syngeneic and allogeneic combinations. The HTLV-I provirus was not detected in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from these rats 18 weeks after inoculation, showing that HTLV-I-transformed rat cells are not suitable for virus challenge in vaccination experiments. Rats inoculated with Lewis HTLV-I-transformed cells produced an antibody response to HTLV-I, which was higher in allogeneic (WKY and Brown Norway) than in syngeneic rats. (ii) The susceptibility of rats to HTLV-II infection: After human HTLV-II-producing cells (MO) were injected into adult WKY rats, the HTLV-II provirus was detected in PBMC 12 weeks later. Sequencing of a portion of this provirus confirmed its identity with the HTLV-II from MO cells. (iii) The role of MHC haplotype in susceptibility to neurological disease in rats inoculated as newborns with HTLV-I: The hypothesis that the RT-Ik haplotype confers susceptibility was tested by inoculating newborn OKA (RT-Ik), WKY (RT-Il), Lewis (RT-Il) and Fischer 344 (RT-I lvl) rats with human HTLV-I-producing cells (MT-2). Eighteen months later, only the WKY rats showed histological abnormality of the spinal cord, without clinical paralysis. Fischer 344 rats developed cutaneous tumors and OKA rats mammary tumors. The HTLV-I provirus was not detected in these tumors.