An attenuated line of Leishmania major (L. major H-line) has been established by culturing promastigotes in vitro under gentamicin pressure. A modification of the previously described method for the generation of attenuated L. major is described, giving rise to attenuated parasites after 8 rather than 12 subpassages. No lesions developed in BALB/c mice infected with L. major H-line, whereas L. major wild-type (WT) induced a Th2 like response with progressive lesions. Analysis of splenocyte IFN-γ and IL-4 production following stimulation with promastigotes shows that the L. major H-line preferentially induces Th1-like responses and possibly down-regulates Th2 responses in BALB/c mice. L. major H-line parasites remained localized in the skin and draining lymph node, whereas L. major WT parasites disseminated into the visceral organs of BALB/c mice. Mice infected with L. major H-line acquired some resistance against L. major WT. These results show that the attenuated cell line of L. major is not only avirulent but that it may also modulate the host immune response.