Purpose To develop a rabbit model of Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) as the best method to reproduce the natural course of this disease. Methods To induce AK, infected contact lenses (1000 amoebae/mm2, 90% trophozoites) were placed over the previously debrided corneal surface, in combination with a temporary tarsorrhaphy. Environmental and clinical strains of Acanthamoeba spp. (genotype T4) were used. Three groups (1L, n = 32; 2L-21d, n = 5; 2L-3d, n = 23) were established according to the number of contact lenses used (1L, 1 lens; 2L-21d and 2L-3d, 2 lenses) and the placement day of these (1L, day 1; 2L-21d, days 1 and 21; 2L-3d, days 1 and 3). The infection was quantified by a clinical score system and confirmed using corneal cytology and culture, polymerase chain reaction and histopathologic analysis. Results The infection rate obtained was high (1L, 87.5%; 2L-21d, 100%; 2L-3d, 82.6%), although no clinical signs were observed in the 50% of the infected animals in group 1L. Among groups, group 2L-3d showed more cases of moderate and severe infection. Among strains, no statistically significant differences were found in the infection rate. In the control eyes, cross infection was confirmed when a sterile contact lens was placed in the previously debrided corneas but not if the eye remained intact. Conclusions The combination of two infected contact lenses after corneal debridement seems to be an alternative model, clinically and histopathologically similar to its human counterpart, to induce the different AK stages and reproduce the course of the disease in rabbits.