The efficacy of an outer surface protein A (OspA) vaccine in three different formulations was investigated in the rhesus monkey. The challenge infection was administered using Ixodes scapularis ticks that were infected with the B31 strain of Borrelia burgdorferi. Protection was assessed against both infection and disease, by a variety of procedures. Some of the animals were radically immune suppressed, as an attempt to reveal any putative low level infection in the vaccinated animals. The significant difference found between the spirochaetal infection rates of ticks that had fed on vaccinated vs. control monkeys, lack of seroconversion in the vaccinated animals, and the absence of spirochaetal DNA in the skin of vaccinated animals in the weeks following the challenge, indicate that vaccinated monkeys were protected against tick challenge. The post-mortem immunohistochemical and polymerase chain reaction analyses, however, suggest that these monkeys may have undergone a low-level infection that was transient.