Brucellosis caused by Brucella abortus occurs in the free-ranging bison (Bison bison) of Yellowstone and Wood Buffalo National Parks and in elk (Cervus elaphus) of the Greater Yellowstone Area. As a result of nationwide bovine brucellosis eradication programs, states and provinces proximate to the national parks are considered free of bovine brucellosis. Thus, increased attention has been focused on the wildlife within these areas as potential reservoirs for transmission to cattle. Because the national parks are mandated as natural areas, the question has been raised as to whether Brucella abortus is endogenous or exogenous to bison, particularly for Yellowstone National Park. We synthesized diverse lines of inquiry, including the evolutionary history of both bison and Brucella, wild animals as Brucella hosts, biochemical and genetic information, behavioral characteristics of host and organism, and area history to develop an evaluation of the question for the National Park Service. All lines of inquiry indicated that the organism was introduced to North America with cattle, and that the introduction into the Yellowstone bison probably was directly from cattle shortly before 1917. Fistulous withers of horses was a less likely possibility. Elk on winter feedgrounds south of Yellowstone National Park apparently acquired the disease directly from cattle. Bison presently using Grand Teton National Park probably acquired brucellosis from feedground elk.