We have previously shown that a pulmonary influenza virus infection in SCID mice can be cured by treatment with monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for the viral transmembrane protein hemagglutinin (HA) but not for matrix 2. Since both types of MAbs react with infected cells but only the former neutralizes the virus, it appeared that passive MAbs cured by neutralization of progeny virus rather than reaction with infected host cells. To prove this, we selected a set of four HA-specific MAbs, all of the immunoglobulin G2a isotype, which reacted well with native HA expressed on infected cells yet differed greatly (>10,000-fold) in virus neutralization (VN) activity in vitro, apparently because of differences in antibody avidity and accessibility of the respective determinants on the HA of mature virions. Since the VN activities of these MAbs in vitro were differentially enhanced by serum components, we determined their prophylactic activities in vivo and used them as measures of their actual VN activities in vivo. The comparison of therapeutic and prophylactic activities indicated that these MAbs cured the infection to a greater extent by VN activity (which was greatly enhanced in vivo) and to a lesser extent by reaction with infected host cells. Neither complement- nor NK cell-dependent mechanisms were involved in the MAb-mediated virus clearance.