This work analyzes the effect of calorie restriction on the development of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) in Lewis rats. Plasma levels of ACTH, corticosterone, prolactin and growth hormone (GH) and mitogenic responses in submaxillary lymph nodes were measured. Male Lewis rats (6 weeks-old) were submitted to a calorie restriction equivalent to 66% of food restriction or to a normal diet. Fifteen days later, rats were injected with complete Freund's adjuvant plus spinal chord homogenate (SCH) or with complete Freund's adjuvant alone. Rats were monitored daily for clinical signs of EAE and were killed on day 15 after immunization. Only rats subjected to normal diet exhibited clinical signs of the disease. The increase in plasma ACTH and corticosterone found after SCH immunization in controls was not detectable in calorie restricted rats. Likewise, the correlation between circulating ACTH and corticosterone was no longer found after calorie restriction. Generally, calorie restriction by itself augmented plasma ACTH or corticosterone and this increase was not further amplified by SCH immunization. Only calorie restricted rats exhibited augmented plasma prolactin levels after SCH immunization, and decreased plasma GH levels regardless of immunization. Calorie restriction depressed the mitogenic response of lymphoid cells to concanavalin A but not to lipopolysaccharide. Calorie restricted rats did not exhibit augmented mitogenic response to concanavalin A following SCH immunization as those found in controls. The results are compatible with the view that the course of EAE can be significantly modified by caloric restriction.