the objective of this study was to compare the histopathological changes and expression of cr3 and cr4 in the liver and spleen of dogs naturally and experimentally infected with l. chagasi. the basic histopathological lesions observed mainly in naturally infected dogs were: epithelioid hepatic granulomas, hyperplasia and hypertrophy of kupffer cells, malpigui follicles and mononucleated cells of the red pulp of the spleen. sections from the liver and spleen by immunocytochemistry technique showed the presence of cd11b,c\cd 18 antigens in the control and infected animals and no qualitative or quantitative differences in the liver. nevertheless, cd18 was always increased in the spleen of naturally and experimentally infected dogs. these results indicate that there is a difference in the activaton of cd 18 in both experimental and natural cases of canine visceral leishmaniasis that should play an important role in the immunological response to leishmania chagasi infection.