Abstract Infectious bronchitis (IB) is an acute and highly contagious viral respiratory disease of chickens. To understand the kinetics and relationships between the humoral (Ab) and antigen specific T cell immunity as well as pathological changes during infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) infection and immunization, one-week-old SPF chickens were vaccinated with live IBV H52 strain and challenged with IBV M41 15 days post primary infection. Chickens were sacrificed every 3 days to monitor antigen specific serum IgG and IBV nucleoprotein-specific immune responses using a chicken MHC I tetramer developed in our laboratory. The results demonstrated that T cell responses developed more rapidly than the humoral (Ab) immune response after vaccination with H52. However, serum IgG dramatically increased after M41 challenge. Chickens from the control, non-vaccinated group developed severe respiratory symptoms and demonstrated significant pathological changes in lung, kidney and bursa of Fabricius post challenge with M41. However, chickens vaccinated with H52 did not demonstrate clinical signs or histological changes post challenge with M41. These results indicated that the live IBV H52 inoculation effectively protected chickens from morbidity and pathological changes associated with IBV infection. These data facilitates the design of a new generation of IBV vaccine.