The effect of the immunosuppressive drug FK 506 on encephalomyelitis (EAE) in Lewis rats was studied. Treatment that began during EAE induction delayed EAE onset, but when the disease started it was chronic/progressive and of unusual severity and duration, leading to death in many animals. Treatment started after onset of EAE shortened the disease. Forty seven days after immunization, extensive demyelination and inflammation were observed in the spinal cords of rats treated with FK 506 from the day of EAE induction. Rats treated after EAE onset had only minimal pathological abnormalities.