The survival, growth and development of Onchocerca lienalis 3rd-stage (L3) larvae implanted into mice within micropore chambers has been studied with a view to developing a vaccination model for studies of protective immunity in onchocerciasis. The influence of host genetics on worm recoveries and development (growth and moulting rate) was analysed in a panel of inbred mice (CBA, BALB/c, DBA/2, SJL, 129J, C57BL/10 (B10), C3H/He and NIH), together with mice of BALB and B10 backgrounds with different major histocompatibility complex (H-2) genes (BALB/c, BALB.K, BALB.B and B10, B10.D2/n, B10.BR, B10.S). Parasite recoveries and development were similar in all mouse genotypes tested. They were unaffected by procedures designed to block or modulate phagocytic cell function with carbon or carrageenan, or to suppress inflammation by treatment with hydrocortisone acetate. A comparison of chambers sealed with membranes designed to admit (5·0 μm pore size) or exclude (0·2 μm pore size) host cells demonstrated no effect on the percentage recovery of living larvae, although dead larvae were more frequently retrieved when cells were excluded. Recoveries and rates of development of larvae implanted into immunodeficient scid mice and athymic Hooded rats were similar to those recorded in immunocompetent controls. We conclude that host genetic factors and immunocompetence are not significant determinants of survival, growth or development of O. lienalis larvae implanted within micropore chambers into naive mice. Despite its limitations, the use of this system merits further investigation as an approach to the study of protective immunity against developing larvae in onchocerciasis.