Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is characterized by loss of T-cell responsiveness and absence of Leishmania-specific IFN-γ production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells. However, the expressions of IFN-γ and TNF-α are up-regulated in the tissues and plasma of VL patients. There is a paucity of information regarding the cytokine profile expressed by different target tissues in the same individual and the changes it undergoes throughout the course of infection. In this work we evaluated IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-10, and TGF-β mRNA expression using real-time RT-PCR in 5 target tissues at 6 months and 16 months post-infection (PI) in a canine experimental model which mimics many aspects of human VL. The spleen and liver of Leishmania infantum experimentally-infected dogs elicited a pro- and anti- inflammatory response and high parasite density at 6 and 16 months PI. The popliteal lymph node, however, showed an up-regulation of IFN-β cytokin at commencement of the study and was at the chronic phase when the IL-10 and TGF-β expression appeared. In spite of skin parasite invasion, local cytokine response was absent at 6 months PI. Parasite growth and onset of clinical disease both correlated with dermal up-regulation of all the studied cytokines. Our VL model suggests that central target organs, such as the spleen and liver, present a mixed cytokine immune response early on infection. In contrast, an antiinflammatory/regulatory immune response in peripheral tissues is activated in the later chronic-patent stages of the disease.