The first documented outbreak of human respiratory disease caused by avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. The kinetics of the antibody response to the avian virus in H5N1-infected persons was similar to that of a primary response to human influenza A viruses; serum neutralizing antibody was detected, in general, >/=14 days after symptom onset. Cohort studies were conducted to assess the risk of human-to-human transmission of the virus. By use of a combination of serologic assays, 6 of 51 household contacts, 1 of 26 tour group members, and none of 47 coworkers exposed to H5N1-infected persons were positive for H5 antibody. One H5 antibody-positive household contact, with no history of poultry exposure, provided evidence that human-to-human transmission of the avian virus may have occurred through close physical contact with H5N1-infected patients. In contrast, social exposure to case patients was not associated with H5N1 infection.