The course of murine infection after intragastric inoculation of L. monocytogenes was investigated by immunocytochemical, histopathological and microbiological techniques. L. monocytogenes antigen was observed in epithelial cells of intestinal mucosa overlying Peyer's patches, but not in mucosa devoid of them. This suggests that penetration of L. monocytogenes into the host organism may take place through epithelium overlying Peyer's patches. The efficiency of bacterial penetration appeared to be low, as shown by the small amounts of L. monocytogenes antigen detected and the low counts of bacteria in organs. Gross or histopathological lesions in the intestinal tract were not observed. The presence of L. monocytogenes in spleen, liver and in maxillary and mesenteric lymph nodes, confirmed that the systemic course of infection by this route of inoculation is similar to that of the parenteral routes. The results emphasize the subclinical character of murine listeriosis by the oral route. © 1992.