C3H/HeJBir is a substrain of C3H/HeJ mice that was generated by selective breeding for the phenotype of spontaneous colitis. These mice show increased B cell and T cell reactivity to antigens of the enteric bacterial flora. CD4+ T cells from this strain cause colitis, when activated by enteric bacterial antigens and transferred to histocompatible severe combined immunodeficient recipients. The expression of the disease phenotype of spontaneous colitis is greatly influenced by housing conditions and probably requires an immunostimulatory enteric flora. This strain seems to carry multiple susceptibility genes for colitis as does the parental C3H/HeJ strain; the genes involved are being mapped. This strain represents a high susceptibility phenotype for colitis that is providing insight into the interactions among immune, environmental and genetic factors that can result in IBD.