Vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis BCG provides limited protection against pulmonary tuberculosis and a risk of dissemination in immune-compromised vaccinees. For the development of new TB vaccines that stimulate strong T-cell responses a variety of strategies is being followed, especially recombinant BCG and attenuated M. tuberculosis. The objective of the current study was to test potential benefits of vaccination through direct lymph-node targeting of wildtype BCG; the recommended route of vaccination with BCG is intradermal. C57BL/6 mice were immunised with BCG by intradermal, subcutaneous or intralymphatic injections. Cellular immune responses and protection against M. tuberculosis were determined. Intralymphatic vaccination was 100-1000 times more effective in stimulating BCG-specific immune responses than intradermal or subcutaneous immunisation. Intralymphatic administration stimulated high frequencies of mycobacterium-specific lymphocytes with strong proliferating capacity and production of TNF-α, IL-2, IL-17 and, especially, IFN-γ secretion by. CD4 and CD8 T cells. Most importantly, intralymphatic vaccination with 2×10(3)CFU BCG induced sustained protection against M. tuberculosis in intratracheally challenged C57BL/6 mice, whereas subcutaneous vaccination with 2×10(5)CFU BCG conferred only a transient protection. Hence, direct administration of M. bovis BCG to lymph nodes demonstrates that efficient targeting to lymph nodes may help to overcome the efficacy problems of vaccination with BCG.