Chlamydia psittaci is prevalent in broiler chicken production. However, the role of C. psittaci in the respiratory disease complex needs to be clarified. Our aim was to identify the time point when a C. psittaci infection appeared on a broiler farm and to examine the presence of other respiratory pathogens at that time. We focused on the 'major' respiratory pathogens occurring in Belgian broilers, namely infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), avian metapneumovirus (aMPV), Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale, Mycoplasma gallisepticum and Mycoplasma synoviae, and examined their co-occurrence with C. psittaci on three commercial broiler farms. For all farms, 1-day-old broilers showed high maternal antibody titres against C. psittaci in the presence of viable C. psittaci. Maternal antibodies seemed to protect against respiratory signs. Maternal antibodies declined and clinical outbreaks could be identified serologically even before maternal antibodies completely disappeared. Mixed infections with genotypes B/C and B/C/D were observed. Broilers with C. psittaci antibody increases showed conjunctivitis, signs of upper respiratory disease and dyspnoea. C. psittaci always preceded an O. rhinotracheale infection. Infections with aMPV, IBV or Mycoplasma spp. were not observed. Evidence was provided that C. psittaci could occur at an early age in broilers without a predisposing respiratory infection. Both C. psittaci and O. rhinotracheale should be considered when developing prevention strategies for respiratory disease in broilers.