We used flow cytometry to determine levels of borreliacidal antibodies in hamsters after vaccination with a commercially available canine Lyme disease vaccine. In addition, we evaluated the ability of vaccinated hamsters to resist infection with several isolates of Borrelia burgdorferi. Borreliacidal antibodies could be detected 1 week after a primary vaccination, peaked at weeks 3 to 5, and then rapidly declined. One week after a booster vaccination, borreliacidal activity was detected at a dilution of 1:10,240, and it decreased fourfold by week 10 after the booster vaccination. Vaccinated hamsters were protected against infection with < or = 10(6) B. burgdorferi 297 organisms during the peak borreliacidal response (5 weeks after primary vaccination or 2 weeks after booster vaccination). However, hamsters were not fully protected from development of Lyme arthritis when the titer of borreliacidal antibodies was < 1:5,120. In addition, no significant borreliacidal activity was induced against B. burgdorferi C-1-11, LV4, or BV1, which belong to three other seroprotective groups. These studies demonstrate that vaccination with the canine Lyme disease vaccine induces protective antibodies against B. burgdorferi 297. However, significant levels of borreliacidal antibodies are not produced until 5 weeks after vaccination, and protection is short-lived. In addition, no borreliacidal activity was induced against other isolates of B. burgdorferi. Because of this, the incorporation of multiple isolates or protein subunits may be necessary to increase the effectiveness of future vaccines.