Bluetongue (BT) is an infectious disease of ruminants that has spread northwards in Europe during the last decade. The aetiological agent of the disease is an arbovirus [bluetongue virus (BTV)] that belongs to the genus Orbivirus (family Reoviridae). The virus is transmitted by certain species of biting midge within the genus Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Information on the vector status of the Culicoides species in a specific area will be essential to predict the risk for BTV incursion. Field-collected Culicoides (Avaritia) imicola Kieffer from South Africa were fed on blood containing several Spanish isolates of BTV. Despite the high virus concentrations in the bloodmeal (5.1-6.4 log10 TCID50/mL of blood), virus was recovered from <1% of midges assayed after incubation. Virus concentrations >2.5 log10 TCID50/midge in individual infected C. imicola suggest virus replication with possible risk for transmission to susceptible vertebrate hosts in the field for at least two of the serotypes assayed (BTV-1 and BTV-2). A third serotype (BTV-4) was very close to the estimated threshold for transmission. The relatively low to near refractory status of C. inicola compared with other vector species such as Culicoides bolitinos supports previous results, indicating that Culicoides species other than C. imicola may play a more important role in the epidemiology of BTV.