VlsE is a surface exposed lipoprotein of the
Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Spirochetes are able to generate many antigenic variants of VlsE by DNA recombination at the vlsE locus. Novel VlsE antigenic variants are readily observed in mice infected with B. burgdorferi. We followed a clonal population of spirochetes through a tick transmission cycle and report that unlike in vertebrates, the vlsE locus is stable in ticks.