We examined whether physical exercise affected the development of an autoimmune response, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), which is a demyelinating disease leading to paralysis. EAE was inducted on day 0, in rats of both sexes, by injecting them with spinal cord tissue in adjuvant. From days 1 to 10 after injection, exercised rats (n = 55) ran on a treadmill (60-120 min/day) before the onset of the paralytic disease. Clinical signs of the disease (ataxia, paralysis, and body mass loss) were examined in exercised and control rats (n = 54). Three types of EAE were induced: monophasic, acute, and chronic relapsing (CR)-EAE (3 bouts of disease, CR-EAE 1, 2, and 3, separated by remissions). Exercise significantly delayed the onset of CR-EAE 1 (P = 0.001) and the 1st day of maximum severity of CR-EAE 1 (P = 0.001) and CR-EAE 2 (P = 0.002). Moreover, the duration of CR-EAE 1 was significantly decreased in exercised rats compared with control rats (P = 0.004). The peak severity of the different types of EAE was not modified by exercise. The present study indicates that endurance exercise during the phase of induction of EAE diminished lightly only one type of EAE (CR-EAE) and therefore did not exacerbate the autoimmune disease.