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Sixteen specific-pathogen-free beagles were infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. Three groups of 4 dogs were treated with antibiotics for 30 consecutive days starting 120 days after tick exposure; 4 dogs were untreated controls. At day 420 after tick exposure and again before euthanasia, 2 dogs of each group were treated with prednisone for 14 days. All dogs contracted infection and 11 developed acute arthritis 50-120 days after exposure. After day 120, one of 12 antibiotic-treated dogs and 2 of 4 untreated dogs became lame. Antibiotic therapy reduced the frequency of Borrelia-positivity in subsequent skin biopsy samples. After prednisone treatment, both control dogs developed severe polyarthritis. At euthanasia, single tissues of the antibiotic-treated dogs and multiple tissues of all control dogs were Borrelia-positive by polymerase chain reaction. Viable spirochetes were not recovered from antibiotic-treated dogs. Two antibiotic-treated dogs showed histologic evidence of minimal lesions, whereas all control dogs had mild polyarthritis with periarteritis.