A number of recent reports emphasize the risk of zoonotic diseases and the high degree of prevalence of asymptomatic animals infected with Leptospira interrogans. This report sought to assess the prevalence of antibodies to certain serovars of L. interrogans, and to describe the association between seropositivity and risk factors associated with within-flock transmission in a mountainous region of Mexico. Overall seroprevalence to L. interrogans was 54·5% (95% confidence interval 48·3–60·7); the most frequent serovar was Icterohaemorrhagiae. The accumulation of placentas and fetuses at a site close to lambing paddocks can play a significant role as a risk factor for within-flock transmission of L. interrogans in transhumant farming systems in the municipality of Xalatlaco. The high prevalence of L. interrogans antibodies supports the hypothesis that natural foci of this zoonosis are present in sheep flocks in this area. These findings emphasize the need for planning and implementation of control programmes for ovine leptospirosis in Mexico and elsewhere.