The effect of sublethal gamma-ray irradiation on the protection conferred by a nasal influenza vaccine was investigated in BALB/c mice. A radiation dose of 7 Gy was selected as the sublethal dose as this caused exacerbation of the influenza but was not lethal in the mouse model. Mice were irradiated 7 days before, on the same day as, and 7 days after, administration of a nasal influenza vaccine, and were then infected with a lethal dose of the virus 4 weeks after vaccination. Almost all mice irradiated 7 days before or on the same day as vaccination died from viral pneumonia around 7 days after the challenge infection, whereas all mice irradiated 7 days after vaccination survived with no sign of infection. In mice irradiated 7 days after vaccination, both local anti-viral IgA and systemic IgG antibodies were produced in parallel with a marked reduction in lung viral titer, although no antibody production and no reduction in lung viral titer were detected in mice irradiated 7 days before, or on the same day as, vaccination. These results clearly demonstrate that vaccination with influenza virus before irradiation can protect mice from subsequent infection. This may be applicable to patients due to receive sublethal irradiation for bone marrow transplantation.