The proportions of different sub-populations of leukocytes in five healthy goats and five goats infected with the caprine arthritis encephalitis virus (CAEV) were examined using immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. A panel of monoclonal antibodies that identified a monocytegranulocyte marker (GMI); the CD4, CD8, IgM, MHC Class I, MHC Class II and T19 antigens, and the gamma delta (γδ) T cell receptor was used. We observed a significant (P=0.016) reduction in the proportion of monocytes in the peripheral blood of infected (5.98%) compared with healthy control goats (9.92%). There was also a decrease in the proportion of CD4+ T lymphocytes that approached significance (P=0.076) accompanied by a slight increase in the proportion of CD8+ T lymphocytes, in infected compared with uninfected animals. Consequently, three of the five infected animals had lower CD4:CD8 ratios than any of the healthy animals and two of these three ratios were inverted. Approximately 14% of T cells in the peripheral blood of healthy goats was identified as γδ T cells and all expressed the T19 antigen. A significantly elevated level of γδ T cells (P = 0.030) and an elevated level of T19 cells were observed in infected, compared with healthy animals. The proportion of leukocytes expressing surface IgM (B cells) was also elevated, although not significantly, in CAEV-infected compared to healthy controls. The changes in peripheral blood leukocyte subsets in infected goats suggest that immune responses to the infection are probably altered in these animals with eventual progression to severe disease and death.