In several chronic diseases, lesions are more severe in LEW rats than in F344 rats.To determine whether or not acute viral diseases also are more severe in LEW rats than in F344 rats, we inoculated 6-7-week-old LEW and F344 rats with 10(7.2) cell culture infective units of sialodacryoadenitis virus or 10(4.7) infective units of Sendai virus. Twenty-four rats of each strain were given each virus. Lesions in nasal passages, tracheas, intrapulmonary airways, and pulmonary alveoli in 6 or 12 rats inoculated with each virus were assessed by scoring 5, 10, and 14 days after inoculation. Both viruses caused typical patchy necrotizing rhinitis, tracheitis, bronchitis, and bronchiolitis, with multifocal pneumonitis, in rats of both strains. Mean lesion indices for LEW rats given sialodacryoadenitis virus were significantly different from those for F344 rats for nasal passages on days 10 (0.999 vs. 0.680) and 14 (0.736 vs. 0.278), bronchi on day 5 (0.479 vs. 0.361), and alveoli on day 5 (0.677 vs. 0.275). Lesion indices for LEW rats given Sendai virus were significantly different from those for F344 rats for nasal passages on days 10 (1.000 vs. 0.611) and 14 (0.778 vs. 0.583); trachea on day 10 (0.625 vs. 0.028); bronchi on days 5 (0.476 vs. 0.331), 10 (0.123 vs. 0.013), and 14 (0.038 vs. 0); and alveoli on days 5 (0.413 vs. 0.114) and 10 (0.185 vs. 0.020). Thus, at the tested doses, both viruses caused more severe respiratory tract lesions in LEW rats than in F344 rats.