The role of rodents as Leptospira renal carriers in Terceira island was evaluated (1993-1995) through kidney culture and serology [microscopic aglutination test (MAT)] of 94 mice and rats. Fifty-nine animals were positive (n = 41 by serology + culturing; n = 11 serology; n = 7 culturing), presenting a wide distribution in man-made and natural areas. House mice had the highest bacteriological (82.9%) and serological (90.9%) rates, being strictly related to serovar arborea. Black rats were involved in the dispersion of all isolated L. interrogans sensu lato serovars (arborea, copenhageni and icterohaemorrhagiae). Logistic regression analysis and non-metric multi-dimensional scaling, relating Leptospira infection with biological and environmental variables, expressed that adult males Mus domesticus, sexually active and living in humid biotopes, mainly above 500 m, are the most likely reservoirs. This study emphasizes the role of house-mice in the epidemiology of leptospirosis in Terceira and the need of reducing the risk of Leptospira transmission through integrated control programmes, primarily focusing on adult house-mice in peri-domestic environments, before the breeding season.