The first case of rabies for 25 years was recorded in the Chinhoyi veterinary region of north-western Zimbabwe in September 1980. An epidemic in jackals (86 per cent of cases) with associated cases in cattle (7 per cent) spread rapidly northwestward through the commercial farming areas. Within 18 months the front had moved 180 km from the probable point of entry of the disease. One case was diagnosed a further 30 km to the north-west. Following a comparatively quiet period in 1982 a second epidemic developed in dogs and spread back 100 km south-eastward during the second half of 1983. Epidemiological factors, the behavioural features of cases and the ownership and vaccination status of dogs are reported. Dogs were a more serious threat to human beings than jackals and the only two known human cases occurred in late 1983. Factors contributing to the patterns of the epidemics are illustrated and discussed.