The presence of Lawsonia intracellularis, the obligate intracellular bacterium causings proliferative enteropathy (PE), in the tonsils of pigs as a locus for infection or extraintestinal occurrence of the bacterium was investigated by PCR and immunohistochemistry. Tonsillar occurrence of L. intracellularis could be part of the pathogenesis of PE and an important risk factor in the spread of the dis ease. L. intracellularis was detected by only PCR in the tonsils of 2/32 pigs without PE at necropsy but with a clinical history of diarrhoea and detection of the bacterium in faeces 1 to 3 weeks prior to necropsy but not in four pigs with moderate PE lesions. However, L. intracellularis was detected in the tonsils of 4/9 pigs with PE complicated with necroses and in 4/4 pigs with proliferative haemorrhagic enteropathy in which L. intracellularis antigen also was demonstrated in tonsillar macrophages and as intact bacteria in the lumen of the crypts. The results show that L. intracellularis is detectable in the tonsils of pigs and that the tonsillar presence of L. intracellularis appears to be correlated to the severity of the intestinal lesions possibly as a result of local retention and not as part of the pathogenesis of PE.