This study examined the spatiotemporal immune response in listeric rhombencephalitis of ruminants in situ. Our data support the view that astrocytes facilitate the containment of infectious lesions. Results on the natural disease recapitulate observations in experimental rodent models and suggest that the mounted adaptive lymphocytic response of ruminants is effective in eliminating Listeria monocytogenes (LM). However, our data indicate earlier participation of the adaptive immune response, a stronger B lymphocyte contribution and a more protracted macrophage infiltration in the natural disease than it has been deduced from experimental models. Therefore, such models should be complemented by studies in natural host systems. Various macrophage and microglia subsets are involved in listeric rhombencephalitis and their differential contribution may account for species differences in clinical course and outcome of infection as might species differences in the B-cell response. Future functional ex vivo and in vitro studies are necessary to further investigate the findings obtained in the present study.