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BALB/c and severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice were inoculated intracerebrally or intraperitoneally with scrapie agent strain ME7 to examine the role of functional lymphocytes and follicular dendritic cells in splenic infectivity and PrPsc accumulation. Intracerebrally inoculated BALB/c and SCID mice developed the clinical signs and microscopic lesions characteristic of scrapie. Spleens from terminally affected BALB/c mice contained PrPsc which was detectable by immunoblot analysis; SCID mouse spleens did not contain detectable PrP so. SCID mouse spleens collected during the first 90 days after intraperitoneal infection contained neither infectivity nor PrPsc.