In an attempt to confer long-term protective immunity, BALB/c female mice were immunized intranasally with 10(4) inclusion-forming units (IFU) of the Chlamydia trachomatis mouse pneumonitis biovar (MoPn). Animals were subsequently challenged in the ovarian bursa with 10(5) C. trachomatis MoPn IFU at 60, 120, or 180 days post-intranasal immunization. Two control groups were included in the study. One control was sham immunized and mock challenged, and another group was sham immunized and challenged with 10(5) C. trachomatis MoPn IFU. Vaginal cultures were collected at regular intervals following the intrabursal challenge. In comparison with the sham-immunized mice, the animals that were intranasally immunized with C. trachomatis had significant protection, as shown by a reduction in the number of animals that had positive vaginal cultures and by a decrease in the intensity and length of the shedding. Furthermore, histopathological characterization of the genital tract following challenge, in the three groups of mice, showed a minimal inflammatory infiltrate in the C. trachomatis-immunized animals, when compared with the sham-immunized control group. Subsequently, the three groups of female mice that were challenged at 60, 120 and 180 days postimmunization were mated at 6 weeks following the challenge. Overall, in the mice intranasally immunized with C. trachomatis the fertility rates and the number of embryos were similar to those in the sham-immunized and mock-challenged group. In contrast, there was a significant increase in infertility in the groups of mice that were sham immunized and C. trachomatis challenged. In conclusion, intranasal immunization with C. trachomatis induces long-term protection against a genital challenge as shown by a decrease in the infection and infertility rates when compared with sham-immunized animals. Thus, this model may help to characterize the parameters of the immune response that are important in maintaining long-term protection and may aid in identifying the antigenic determinants involved in eliciting protection.