The role of passive immunity in bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) infections in neonatal calves was evaluated. Calves were divided into groups as follows: colostrum-deprived, sham-inoculated; colostrum-deprived, BRSV-inoculated; and colostrum-fed, BRSV-inoculated. Calves were inoculated with a low-passage field isolate of BRSV for 4 consecutive days by a combined respiratory tract route and were euthanized 6 days after receiving the last inoculation. Arterial oxygen tension (Pao2) decreased significantly over time in colostrum-deprived, BRSV-inoculated calves (P less than .01) and was significantly different among treatment groups (P less than .05). A significant decrease in arterial oxygen saturation was observed in this same group over time (P less than .01). Mean percentage of pneumonic lung volume (determined by computer data digitalization) was significantly greater in infected, colostrum-deprived calves compared with the other groups (P less than .01), and BRSV antigen was detected in these calves by avidin-biotin immunoperoxidase staining. Thus, passive immunity derived from colostrum feeding decreased the severity of BRSV infections in calves.