To explore the competence of American robins as a reservoir for
Lyme disease spirochetes, we determined the susceptibility of these birds to tickborne spirochetes and their subsequent infectivity for larval vector ticks. Robins acquired infection and became infectious to almost all xenodiagnostic ticks soon after exposure to infected nymphal ticks. Although infectivity waned after 2 months, the robins remained susceptible to reinfection, became infectious again, and permitted repeated feeding by vector ticks. In addition, spirochetes passaged through birds retained infectivity for mammalian hosts. American robins become as infectious for vector ticks as do reservoir mice, but infectivity in robins wanes more rapidly.