Abstract Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection in sheep is characterized by an immune suppression as indicated by impaired antibody response, reduced lymphocyte response and reduced oxidative burst. The effect of A. phagocytophilum infection on leucocyte populations, especially lymphocytes, was therefore investigated in six sheep experimentally infected with A. phagocytophilum, and compared with leucocyte populations from control animals. To investigate the ability of the infection to interfere with the cellular and humoral responses to specific antigens, the animals were vaccinated with commercial vaccines at the time of experimental infection, and monitored for 56 days. There were reduced percentages of γδ T-cells and CD4+ T-cells in peripheral blood of infected animals throughout the study period, and these cell populations showed a down-regulation of CD25 expression; while there was a relative increase in CD8+ T-cells. The reduction in CD25+ γδ T-cells involved a subpopulation of WC1+ γδ T-cells. During the first 2 weeks of the study there were reduced percentages of B-cells and leukocytes expressing MHC II and CD11b, though this decrease changed to a relative increase later in the study. The relative reductions in leucocyte populations corresponded with the observed leucopenia during the first 3 weeks post-infection, which involved lymphocyte, neutrophil and eosinophil subsets [Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol. 86 (2002) 183]. There was a reduced expression of CD11b and CD14 on granulocytes during the first 2 weeks of the study, which corresponded with the previously reported leucopenia involving neutrophils and eosinophils. Antibody responses to vaccines, lymphocyte in vitro proliferative responses to antigens and mitogens, and in vitro IFN-γ responses to antigens were reduced up to 4 weeks after infection.