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The susceptibility of laboratory reared Zimbabwean Amblyomma hebraeum and A. variegatum ticks to infection with geographically distinct Cowdria ruminantium strains was investigated by feeding both species simultaneously on individual sheep infected with one of the four strains (Crystal Springs [Zimbabwe], Ball 3 [South Africa], Gardel [Guadeloupe] and Nigeria [Nigeria]). A. hebraeum ticks demonstrated a high susceptibility to infection with all four C. ruminantium strains. In comparison, A. variegatum were less susceptible to infection with the Crystal Springs and Ball 3 strains (P < 0.001), but showed a similar susceptibility to the Gardel and Nigeria strains. The differences in susceptibility of A. variegatum to infection with the four strains of C. ruminantium correlated with the origin of these strains. The consistently higher susceptibility of A. hebraeum ticks to infection with geographically different C. ruminantium strains may be one explanation for the observation that heartwater is a more serious problem where A. hebraeum is the vector of the disease.