Mechanisms of innate resistance to infection with the Gilliam strain of Rickettsia tsutsugamushi were examined using congenic strains of mice resistant (C3H/RV) or susceptible (C3H/He) to intraperitoneal infection. Both strains of mice were resistant to infection with 1,000 50% mouse lethal doses of rickettsiae if given intravenously. In both systems rickettsial replication occurred after intravenous infection, as evidenced by an increase in rickettsial numbers in the spleens of infected animals, followed by a decrease in rickettsiae to low levels by day 14 postinfection. Administration of the antimacrophage agents silica and carrageenan to C3H/He mice intravenously rendered these animals susceptible to lethal infection. Neither irradiation nor silica given individually rendered C3H/RV mice susceptible to intravenous infection. However, if silica and irradiation were given together, a lethal infection occurred after intravenous infection. C3H/RV mice became susceptible to lethal infection after sublethal doses of irradiation only if they were infected intraperitoneally. Administration of silica or carrageenan had no effect on the outcome of intraperitoneal infection of these mice with Gilliam rickettsiae. These data suggest that both strains of mice share innate resistance mechanisms to intravenous infection that consist of fixed macrophages. Resistance of C3H/RV mice to intraperitoneal infection, in contrast, apparently was dependent only on an irradiation-sensitive process.