Abstract During the incursion of bluetongue virus (BTV) serotype 8 in France in 2007, an increase in the number of abortions in cattle was observed, but the cause was not clearly established. A survey of all the reported cases of abortion in cattle from November 2008 to April 2009 was conducted in the Nièvre district (Burgundy region) to determine the percentage of abortions as a result of BTV-8 and to study factors that could have played a role in BTV-8 transplacental transmission. BTV-8 was present in 16% of the fetuses or newborn calves that died within 48 h, from 780 dams. Dams inseminated before the BTV epizootic peak recorded from July to September 2008 were more likely to have BTV-positive abortions (OR=5.7, P<0.001) and those vaccinated in May or June 2008 were less likely to have BTV-positive abortions (OR=0.3, P=0.01 and OR=0.4, P=0.001, respectively). The gestational month was not a predictor of BTV abortion. In blood or spleen, fetuses/calves from RT-PCR-positive dams had significantly higher RNA concentrations than fetuses/calves from RT-PCR-negative dams. Of the 128 dams that had BTV-positive fetuses or calves, 60% were RT-PCR-negative. BTV-8-positive fetuses/calves were significantly more frequent (n=42 vs n=21, P=0.082) amongst those showing clinical signs or lesions suggestive of cerebral damage.