Cytokine responses to Leishmania infection begin very early in infection, and differ between susceptible and resistant mice. Susceptibility to chronic Leishmania infection has been associated with increased haematopoiesis. To analyse the effect that acute infection with L. major has on bone-marrow haematopoiesis in susceptible (BALB/c) and resistant (CBA) mice, we enumerated erythroid progenitors and granulocyte-monocyte progenitors 3 days after infection. We found that haematopoiesis was stimulated in BALB/c mice infected with L. major, while haematopoiesis was inhibited in CBA mice. We found that this effect could be partially explained by cytokine production: interleukin-4 was involved in stimulation of BALB/c haematopoiesis and tumour necrosis factor-α was involved in inhibition of CBA haematopoiesis. Our conclusions are that haematopoietic changes occur shortly after L. major infection, and may be related to disease outcome.