The host-pathogen interaction is as a key feature during the formation of tissue cysts of Toxoplasma gondii within intermediate hosts. In this study, we investigated whether oral infection of lambs with T. gondii oocysts may be used as an experimental model in sheep to study this interaction, with the main objective being to detect the presence and distribution of lesions and parasite within different organs at different time points after oral infection. Lambs were infected with 5 x 10(3) and 5 x 10(5) sporulated T. gondii oocysts and culled at 2,3, 5 and 6 weeks post-infection (WPI). During the infection, rectal temperature of the animals and serological antibodies against T. gondii were monitored. The presence of inflammatory lesions and parasite were evaluated through histological and immunohistochemical methods at different organs (brain, liver, lung, heart and lymph nodes). The lambs showed no clinical signs other than fever, and lesions appeared mainly in the brain, characterized by glial foci and perivascular cuffs, and in the heart, denoted by foci of interstitial myositis. Tissue cysts and tachyzoite-like structures were observed at all time points studied in the brain, where together with the glial foci they appeared mainly in the cerebral cortex of the forebrain and in the midbrain, but also in the heart, lung and lymph nodes. This study shows that oral infection with sporulated oocysts in lambs may provide a model for investigating the host-parasite interaction in situ during the development of tissue cysts. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.