We have developed a natural mouse model to study persistent colonization by commensal Neisseria. The system couples the ordinary lab mouse with Neisseria musculi (Nmus), a commensal in the oral cavity and gut of the wild mouse, Mus musculus. The pairing of Nmus with its natural reservoir circumvents host restriction barriers that have impeded previous studies of Neisseria in vivo behavior. The model allows, for the first time, for the dissection of host and neisserial determinants of asymptomatic colonization. Inoculation procedures are noninvasive and susceptibility to Nmus colonization varies with host genetic background. In colonized mice, bacterial burdens are detectable up to 1-year post inoculation, making it an ideal model for the study of persistence. As Nmus encodes several Neisseria gonorrhoeae (and Neisseria meningitidis) host interaction factors, the system can be used to query the in vivo functions of these commonly held genes and factors. Nmus also encodes many pathogenic Neisseria vaccine targets including a polysaccharide capsule, making the model potentially useful for vaccine development. The ease of genetic manipulation of Nmus enhances the feasibility of such studies.