Previous studies demonstrated that the innate resistance of mice to Listeria monocytogenes infection by intravenous or intraperitoneal inoculation is regulated principally by the Hc locus on mouse chromosome 2. The A/J and C57BL/6 mouse strains were identified as prototype L. monocytogenes-susceptible and -resistant strains, respectively. In the present study, we compared the relative susceptibilities of A/J and C57BL/6 mice to intragastric (i.g.) inoculation with L. monocytogenes. The results of our study indicate that A/J mice are significantly more susceptible than C57BL/6 mice to an i.g. challenge with L. monocytogenes. This was reflected in the estimated 50% lethal doses for the two strains (106 and 108 CFU for A/J and C57BL/6 mice, respectively) and a more rapid and severe dissemination of the infection to the spleen and liver in A/J mice than in C57BL/6 mice. Histopathological examination of tissues from the infected mice confirmed the greater severity of disease in A/J mice. Clearance of a primary infection enhanced the resistance of both A/J and C57BL/6 mice to reinfection with L. monocytogenes via the gastrointestinal tract. However, the relative difference in susceptibility between the two strains was evident even after immunization. The A/J mouse holds promise as a model for investigating the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal listeriosis because of its ability to develop systemic infection following challenge with numbers of organisms similar to those recovered from some L. monocytogenes-contaminated food products.