Abstract Infection with Leishmania major species is endemic in many provinces of Iran. Isolates from four endemic areas located in north (Damghan), center (Kashan), west (Dehloran), and south (Shiraz) of country which showed major distinctive polymorphism by RAPD-PCR method were evaluated. Isolates were inoculated to different groups of BALB/c mice and their clinical and immunological status was compared. Lesion size, parasite burden and T cell phenotype in lymph node (LN), and cytokine secretion in the culture of LN mononuclear cells were determined. The results showed the lowest and highest lesion sizes in mice infected by Shiraz strain (3.02 ± 0.52 mm) and Kashan strain (5.20 ± 0.45), respectively, 8 weeks after inoculation. No significant difference was observed between other strains. The parasite burden was significantly lower in lymph node of mice infected with strain of Damghan (1.51 × 10 7) than Kashan (3.60 × 10 9) and Shiraz (7.08 × 10 9) strains, 8 weeks post-infection. However, Dehloran strain showed intermediate load of viable parasites (1.51 × 10 9) in LN, 8 weeks post-infection. High ratios of IFN-γ/IL-4 were shown in mice inoculated by strain of Dehloran (3.17) and Damghan (2.66), but not in mice infected by other strains, 8 weeks post-infection. The highest and lowest ratios of CD4 +/CD8 + T cells were found in LN cells of mice infected with Kashan (1.82) and Dehloran (1.00) strains, respectively. Results indicate that the lowest and intermediate loads of parasites induced by Damghan and Dehloran strains along with higher ratio of IFN-γ/IL-4 produced by both strains in LN of inoculated mice suggest that these strains have the capacity to shift the immune responses to a predominant Th1 response after 8 weeks infection in BALB/c mice and might be the ideal strains for vaccine studies and development of candidate vaccine against leishmaniasis.