Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a well-established model of multiple sclerosis, is characterised by microglial activation and lymphocyte infiltration. Induction of EAE in Lewis rats produces an acute monophasic disease characterised by a single peak of disability followed by a spontaneous and complete recovery and a subsequent tolerance to further immunizations. In the current study we have performed a detailed analysis of the dynamics of different lymphocyte populations and cytokine profile along the induction, peak, recovery and post-recovery phases in this paradigm. MBP-injected rats were sacrificed attending exclusively to their clinical score, and the different populations of T-lymphocytes as well as the dynamics of different pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines were analysed in the spinal cord by flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry and ELISA. Our results revealed that, during the induction and peak phases, in parallel to an increase in symptomatology, the number of CD3+ and CD4+ cells increased progressively, showing a Th1 phenotype, but unexpectedly during recovery, although clinical signs progressively decreased, the number and proportion of CD3+ and CD4+ populations remained unaltered. Interestingly, during this recovery phase, we observed a marked decrease of Th1 and an important increase in Th17 and T-reg cells. Moreover, our results indicate a specific cytokine expression profile along the EAE course characterized by no changes of IL10 and IL17 levels, decrease of IL21 on the peak, and high IL22 levels during the induction and peak phases that markedly decrease during recovery. In summary, these results revealed the existence of a specific pattern of lymphocyte infiltration and cytokine secretion along the different phases of the acute EAE model in Lewis rat that differs from those already described in chronic or relapsing-remitting mouse models, where Th17-cells were found mostly during the peak, suggesting a specific role of these lymphocytes and cytokines in the evolution of this acute EAE model. © 2011 Almolda et al.