Xenopus has been used as an experimental model to evaluate the contribution of adaptive cellular immunity in amphibian host susceptibility to the emerging ranavirus FV3. Conventional histology and immunohistochemistry reveal that FV3 has a strong tropism for the proximal tubular epithelium of the kidney and is rarely disseminated elsewhere in Xenopus hosts unless their immune defenses are impaired or developmentally immature as in larvae. In such cases, virus is found widespread in most tissues. Adults, immunocompromised by depletion of CD8 super(+) T cells or by sub-lethal plus or minus -irradiation, show increased susceptibility to FV3 infection. Larvae and irradiated (but not normal) adults can be cross-infected through water by infected adult conspecifics (irradiated or not). The natural MHC class I deficiency and the absence of effect of anti-CD8 treatment on both larval CD8 super(+) T cells and larval susceptibility to FV3 are consistent with an inefficient CD8 super(+) T cell effector function during this developmental period.