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Ixodes (Ixodes) jellisoni Cooley & Kohls, a nonhuman biting and little known tick, is one of 4 members of the I. ricinus complex in the United States. A localized population of I. jellisoni inhabiting a grassland biotope in Mendocino County, CA, was studied from 1993 to 1997. Rodent trapping in all seasons revealed that the only host of both immature and adult I. jellisoni was the heteromyid rodent Dipodomys californicus Merriam. Field investigations suggested that I. jellisoni is nidicolous in habit, and laboratory findings demonstrated that it reproduces parthenogenetically. Known parthenogenetic females (n = 4) produced an average of 530 eggs of which 74% hatched, which was comparable to the fecundity and fertility of wild-caught females (n = 8). After the transstadial molt, 57 F1 or F2 nymphs derived from 2 wild-caught or 4 laboratory-reared, unmated females produced only females. Ixodes jellisoni males were not found on 112 wild-caught D. californicus individuals that were captured an average of 2 times. Collectively, these findings suggest that I. jellisoni may be obligatorily parthenogenetic. Borrelial isolates were obtained from 85% of 58 D. californicus and 33% of 21 I. jellisoni females removed from this rodent. None of the 7 infected female ticks passed borreliae ovarially to its F1 larval progeny. Eight D. californicus and 5 I. jellisoni-derived isolates that were genetically characterized belonged to 2 restriction pattern groups of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. Neither restriction pattern group has been assigned to a particular genospecies yet. After placement on naturally infected D. californicus, noninfected larval ticks acquired and transstadially passed spirochetes as efficiently as (group 1 borreliae) or 6 times more efficiently (group 2 borreliae) than Ixodes pacificus Cooley & Kohls. As few as 1-4 infected I. jellisoni nymphs were capable of transmitting group 1 or group 2 borreliae to naive D. californicus. We conclude that I. jellisoni is a competent vector of both restriction fragment groups when D. californicus is used as the animal model.