To investigate larval development of Acanthocheilonema reconditum in the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis, fleas were fed through an artificial feeding system with dog blood containing different concentrations of microfilariae (i.e. low, group L = 250; medium, group M = 500; high, group H = 1500 microfilariae per mL) or no microfilariae (group C). Fleas were sampled at 12 different time-points throughout the study period (D1–D28) and A. reconditum was detected by dissection, PCR and histology. Of 2105 fleas fed with infected dog blood, 891 (38·7%) died during the study before being sampled whilst the remaining (n = 1214) were examined for A. reconditum. Upon dissection, first-stage larvae (L1) were identified after 2 days post infection (D2), second-stage (L2) at D13 and infective third-stage larvae (L3) at D15. Eighteen (30%) of 60 pools of fleas molecularly examined tested positive. Histologically, L2 were detected at D13 in the sub-cuticle region embedded in the back muscle of one female flea. This study provides original data on larval development of A. reconditum in C. felis and reports on the usefulness of the artificial feeding system.