Prion strains are defined by their biological properties after transmission to wild-type mice, specifically by their incubation periods and patterns of vacuolar pathology (‘lesion profiles’). Preliminary results from transmissions of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD) to wild-type mice provided the first compelling evidence for the close similarity of the vCJD agent to the agent causing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Complete results from this investigation, including the transmission characteristics of vCJD from brain and peripheral tissues of 10 cases (after primary transmission and subsequent mouse-to-mouse passage), have now been analysed. All 10 vCJD sources resulted in consistent incubation periods and lesion profiles, suggesting that all 10 patients were infected with the same strain of agent. Incubation periods suggested that infectious titres may be subject to regional variation within the brain. Comparison of incubation periods and lesion profiles from transmission of brain and peripheral tissues showed no evidence of tissue-specific modification in the biological properties of the agent. Analysis of the protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) by Western blotting from primary and subsequent passages in mice showed a glycosylation pattern closely resembling that of vCJD in humans, the so-called BSE ‘glycoform signature’. Minor variations in PrPres fragment size were evident between mouse strains carrying different alleles of the gene encoding PrP both in primary transmissions and on further passages of vCJD brain. Overall, the results closely resembled those of previously reported transmissions of BSE in the same mouse strains, consistent with BSE being the origin of all of these vCJD cases.