Abstract It has been shown previously that immunization with recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing the F or G envelope glycoprotein of human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) strain A2 induced a protective immune response in the lower respiratory tract of cotton rats against live RSV challenge. As a continuation of these studies, the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of these recombinant vaccinia viruses was evaluated in non-human primates. Rhesus and patas monkeys were each inoculated intradermally at separate sites with the vaccinia-A2-F or vaccinia-A2-G recombinant or the parental vaccinia virus WR strain and the dermal lesion sizes were compared. Vaccinia-A2-F and vaccinia-A2-G recombinants produced lesions that were 5- to 15-fold smaller in area than vaccinia-WR. These studies indicated that insertion of either RSV gene into the thymidine kinase (TK) gene of vaccinia-WR significantly attenuated the virus for rhesus and patas monkeys. The immunogenicity of vaccinia-A2-F and vaccinia-A2-G was evaluated in squirrel, rhesus, African green, owl and patas monkeys. In four of the five species tested, the vaccinia-RSV recombinants stimulated levels of RSV serum-neutralizing antibodies considered to be protective for the lower respiratory tract of human infants and cotton rats. Interestingly, the level of RSV serum-neutralizing antibodies correlated with the size of the lesion. A boost in RSV serum-neutralizing antibody titres was not observed following a second inoculation. Owl monkeys inoculated with a single intradermal dose of vaccinia-A2-F and vaccinia-A2-G were completely resistant to infection of the lower respiratory tract with live RSV. The degree of resistance conferred in both the lower and upper respiratory tracts by vaccinia-A2-F and vaccinia-A2-G was similar to that observed in owl monkeys previously infected with RSV.