Chytridiomycosis is an emerging infectious disease that has recently been reported in amphibian populations throughout the world. It has been associated with many cases of population declines and extinctions. In some areas of the Sierra Nevada of California the disease appears to be the causal factor in the rapid extinction of local populations of the mountain yellow-legged frog, Rana muscosa, within a few years of the first detection of the disease. In other areas, however, R. muscosa populations appear to persist for many years, despite high levels of infection in tadpoles. Here we present simple models of the dynamics of the disease within an individual lake and ask whether our current understanding of the disease is consistent with the field survey observations of: (a) extinction due to the disease over a wide range of host population sizes, and (b) persistence of frog populations with the disease at some sites. Despite our laboratory observation of chytridiomycosis being invariably lethal to postmetamorphic frogs, the observed long-term persistence of infected frog populations can only be explained if at least some infected adult frogs survive and reproduce.