Prion disease or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies are caused by novel pathogens termed prions. Unlike classical infectious agents such as viruses or bacteria, prions lack an independent genome and consist largely if not entirely of an abnormal form of the host-encoded prion protein. How prions multiply is not known. A wealth of experimental evidence supports an essential role for the host-encoded prion protein in susceptibility and pathogenesis of prion diseases and in the propagation and spread of prions. In addition, B lymphocytes have been found to play a crucial role in the neuroinvasiveness of prions.