Six healthy beagle dogs were infected with Leishmania infantum (MCAN/ES/92/BCN-83/MON-1) by intravenous inoculation of 5 x 10(7) promastigotes and two others were used as controls. When animals showed clinical signs of disease at 29, 37, 41 and 45 weeks post-infection (p.i.), they were treated with meglumine antimoniate (20.4 mg Sb/kg/12 h) subcutaneously for two periods of 10 days each. Sera were tested periodically for Leishmania antibodies by Dot-ELISA, ELISA and Western blot (WB). Aspirates of popliteal lymph node (PLN), peripheral blood sample (PB) and healthy skin were cultured in NNN and Schneider's medium. PLNs were positive between 8 and 20 weeks p.i. and in one animal PB was positive 6 weeks p.i. Samples of healthy skin, obtained before treatment, were also positive. Dot-ELISA and ELISA detected specific antibodies at an early stage between 4 and 12 weeks p.i and surpassed the cut-off between 16-24 weeks p.i., while the WB was positive between 10-19 weeks p.i. The pattern of bands revealed during the first stages of infection was variable and only in two cases did the positivity start with bands of low molecular weight (12-14 kD); the number of bands increased until 15-24 weeks p.i., after which sera revealed a complete pattern of bands, from 12 to 85 kD, in the antigen of Leishmania. After treatment the clinical improvement of the animals was accompanied by a decrease in antibody titers (Dot-ELISA and ELISA) although the parasites remained in the PLN. This was reflected in the WB by a decrease in the intensity of bands, especially those in the region of 12-30 kD. A new increase in the antibody levels between 3 and 5 months after terminating the therapy was detected in the WB by a restoration of the initial complete pattern of bands.