Human respiratory epithelial cells may act as antigen-presenting cells during respiratory viral infections. In addition to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules, antigen presentation requires participation of costimulatory molecules. Here the authors investigated class I and class II antigens and B7-1 and B7-2 costimulatory molecule expression in human A549 pulmonary epithelial cells and primary bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) at baseline and after rhinovirus infection. Constitutive expression of MHC class I and B7-1 molecules was observed on both cell types. MHC class I molecules were up-regulated by rhinovirus infection, while B7-1 was up-regulated only on A549 cells. B7-2 molecules were constitutively expressed at a low level and were up-regulated by rhinovirus only on HBECs. Rhinovirus induction of antigen-presenting molecule expression on A549 cells was accompanied by cellular activation in terms of induction of release of the chemokines RANTES and Groalpha. These data show that respiratory epithelium expresses full antigen-presentation machinery and that rhinovirus infection up-regulates this expression.