At intervals from 2 to 11 weeks after normal rabbits had inhaled small numbers of virulent bovine tubercle bacilli as separated cells in droplet nuclei, groups of these animals received a single exposure to reinfection during which each animal inhaled about 20,000 separated bacilli.
Normal control rabbits which inhaled this large number of bacilli died within 4 weeks thereafter. Their deaths were attributed to destruction of the lungs by developing initial tubercles.
Eleven of 12 rabbits which were reinfected within 4 weeks after initial infection seemed to respond as normal animals. Their lungs were largely replaced by developing reinfection tubercles when they died or were killed within 32 days after reinfection.
The inflammatory response of the reinfection tubercles was not consistently different from that of initial tubercles, although reinfection tubercles contained fewer bacilli than initial lesions of the same age.
Within 5 weeks after initial infection rabbits apparently had developed immunity to reinfection with virulent bovine tubercle bacilli inhaled as separated cells in droplet nuclei. In some of them, however, exposure to massive inhaled reinfection seemed to stimulate the progress of initial infection.
It is suggested that in rabbits the development of resistance to tubercle bacilli does not bear a linear relationship to time, but progresses in steps and within 5 weeks after small initial infection by inhalation is adequate to prevent the growth of separated bacilli when these are deposited upon alveolar walls.
It is suggested also that the basic effect of acquired resistance of rabbits to tubercle bacilli is inhibition of multiplication of the bacilli.