A mouse model was developed to study the virus-host interaction of molecularly cloned human foamy virus (HFV) in vivo. The infectious process was analysed in two mouse strains, CBA/Ca and C57BL/6J, over a period of 24 weeks by PCR on DNAs from various animal tissues; virus serology was examined by immunoblotting. The infection persisted in both mouse strains and did not induce clinical symptoms. Upon infection of adult CBA/Ca mice HFV became detectable by PCR in an increasing number of organs over time. In contrast, in C57BL/6J mice, after an initial phase of dissemination, viral DNA sequences were found only in a few organs. Interestingly, the different course of infection was accompanied by differences in the antiviral immune response. In particular, C57BL/6J mice were high responders with respect to antibodies to the viral Bet protein, while CBA/Ca mice were low responders.