We have used the murine model of aerosol-induced experimental tuberculosis to assess the effects of four clinical isolates and a reference strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis on resistant C57BL/6 mice and susceptible DBA/2 mice. Histological studies and detection of 25 cytokines potentially involved in the infection were carried out. DBA/2 mice showed higher concentrations of bacilli in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and lung tissue. Furthermore, these mice evidenced a larger granulomatous infiltration in the parenchyma due to an increased rate of emigration of infected foamy macrophages from the granulomas to the neighboring pulmonary alveolar spaces. The better control of bacillary concentrations and pulmonary infiltration observed in C57BL/6 mice from week 3 postinfection could result from their higher RANTES, ICAM-1, and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) mRNA levels. On the other hand, the higher MIP-2 and MCP-3 mRNA levels seen in DBA/2 mice would result in stronger lung recruitment of macrophages and neutrophils. Additionally, DBA/2 mice showed increased inducible nitric oxide synthase expression, induced by the larger number of foamy macrophages, at weeks 18 and 22. This increment was a consequence of phagocytosed bacillary debris, was independent of IFN-γ expression, and could exert only a bacteriostatic effect. The results of the study suggest that DBA/2 mice are more susceptible than C57BL/6 mice to M. tuberculosis infection due to a higher bronchial dissemination of bacilli inside poorly activated foamy macrophages.