The kinetics of changes in Toxoplasma gondii abundance were evaluated with a quantitative competitive (QC)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay at various sites in both C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice. Higher mortality was apparent in C57BL/6 mice than in BALB/c mice when infected with a high dose of cysts. There were significant differences in cyst number when infected with a low dose of cysts, although there was no significant difference in mortality between the 2 mouse strains. One day after infection with a low dose of an avirulent Fukaya strain, T. gondii was detected in peripheral blood, mesenteric lymph nodes, spleen, lungs, and brain. Two weeks after infection, the number of T. gondii in the brain greatly increased in C57BL/6 mice but not in BALB/c mice. Thus, it would appear that the first to second week after infection is a critical period in determining T. gondii abundance. QC PCR allows the detection of low numbers of T. gondii at an early stage of infection in the murine model. This is useful for the early diagnosis of toxoplasmosis and to understand reactivation of toxoplasmosis.