Abstract A quantitative competitive RT-PCR method was developed in order to measure IL-1β, IL-4, IL-12, IFNγ, TNFα and G 3PDH mRNA from samples of ovine tissue such as lymph node or spleen. The main advantage of the method relies on the use, for each target sequence, of an internal competitor construct similar to the relevant target, but 4-bp different in size. This competitive strategy is validated by the equivalence of the amplification process, observed separately between competitor DNA and target DNA species. Furthermore, the copy number of each cytokine cDNA is normalized to a fixed copy number of G 3PDH cDNA. The cDNA level of this constitutive gene was effectively shown to remain constant whatever the tissue studied and independently of the experimental conditions used. The accurate and reproducible data obtained permit the application of this quantitative RT-PCR method to measure the sheep cytokine response to Salmonella infection. Early induction of IFNγ mRNA was observed in the draining lymph node 1 day after infection. At the same time, a strong increase of IL-1β mRNA was observed in local and systemic lymphoid organs, suggesting the initiation of the inflammatory response. Finally, the overall results demonstrate the efficiency of the method and its suitability for further studies of the immune response in the ovine species.