The persistence of Bordetella pertussis and B. parapertussis within vaccinated populations and the reemergence of associated disease highlight the need to better understand protective immunity. The present study examined host immunity to bordetellae and addressed potential concerns about the mouse model by using a comparative approach including the closely related mouse pathogen B. bronchiseptica. As previously observed with B. pertussis, all three organisms persisted throughout the respiratory tracts of B-cell-deficient mice, indicating that B cells are required for bacterial clearance. However, adoptively transferred antibodies rapidly cleared B. bronchiseptica but not human pathogens. These results obtained with the mouse model are consistent with human clinical observations, including the lack of correlation between antibody titers and protection, as well as the limited efficacy of intravenous immunoglobulin treatments against human disease. Together, this evidence suggests that the mouse model accurately reflects substantial differences between immunities to these organisms. Although both B. pertussis and B. parapertussis are more closely related to B. bronchiseptica than they are to each other, they share the ability to resist rapid clearance from the lower respiratory tract by adoptively transferred antibodies, an adaptation that correlates with their emergence as human pathogens that circulate within vaccinated populations.