In order to gain a better understanding of the pathogenesis of scrapie in sheep an experimental model was developed to characterise immune system cells in the minutes following inoculation with scrapie-brain homogenate. Four 1-year-old susceptible (ARQ/ARQ) sheep were inoculated via the subcutaneous route at four different peripheral lymph node (LNs) drainage sites, at specific time points, prior to euthanasia of the sheep. The LNs were removed post-mortem at 30, 90, 180 and 300 min after inoculation. Flow cytometric triple-labelling was carried out on the LN cells and indicated that inoculation of scrapie-brain homogenate adjacent to a lymph node may delay or even inhibit the number of host CD21(+) B cells expressed within the first 5 h. Immunohistochemistry was used to attempt detection of the abnormal form of prion protein (PrPsc) in draining LNs adjacent to inoculation sites, with negative results at those time points. (c) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.