BACKGROUND: Donor white cells (WBCs) in blood transfusions are responsible for complications in recipients, including alloimmunization, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and virus transmission and reactivation. The recent use of sequence-specific polymerase chain reaction assays to monitor the kinetics of clearance of donor WBCs in transfused humans and dogs found transient recirculation of donor lymphocytes on Days 3 to 5 after transfusion; this presumably reflected an abortive GVHD reaction to major histocompatibility complex-incompatible recipient cells, after which donor WBCs were cleared to undetectable levels. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: This study sought to develop a murine model to further characterize the kinetics and major histocompatibility complex restriction of donor WBC clearance. A sensitive murine Y chromosome- specific polymerase chain reaction assay was developed and applied to serial blood samples collected after transfusions of allogeneic blood to naive inbred, primed inbred, and outbred mice, as well as after transfusions of gamma-radiated blood to naive inbred mice. RESULTS: In inbred mice, both naive and primed to the allogeneic blood donor, transfused WBCs were not cleared to undetectable levels for more than 1 month after transfusion. Transfused outbred mice also showed prolonged donor WBC survival, although at lower levels than inbred mice. There was no evidence of GVHD in either inbred or outbred mice, and gamma radiation had no significant impact on donor WBC persistence. CONCLUSION: These results contrast with the rapid clearance of donor WBCs observed in humans and dogs. The immunologic basis for this discrepancy remains unclear. Caution should be exercised in any extrapolation to humans of conclusions drawn from results in transfused mice.