Rotavirus infects the intestinal epithelium of most mammalian species and causes diarrhea in infants. Previously, we have shown that both type I and II human interferons (IFNs) have potent and mechanistically discreet antiviral effects in vitro against rotavirus. We have also shown that adult IFN-gamma knockout (-/-) mice have no alteration in clearance of primary rotavirus infection. In the present studies, we wished to determine the importance of both IFN types in modulation of degree and duration of disease and infection in mice. Immunocompetent suckling mice were treated orally (5,000 IU) or parenterally (500 IU) with type I and II murine IFNs before and after challenge with virulent murine rotavirus. Treated animals developed diarrhea indistinguishable from that observed in untreated control mice. In other experiments, type I IFN receptor -/- suckling mice and IFN-gamma-/- suckling mice developed diarrhea of similar characteristics and duration and had comparable quantities of viral antigen in their intestines as did immunocompetent mice. Furthermore, type I IFN receptor -/- adult mice infected with rotavirus shed equivalent quantities of viral antigen and with similar kinetics as the control mice. Thus, IFNs do not seem to be major inhibitors of rotavirus diarrhea or replication in mice.