The ability of the C3d component of complement to enhance antibody responses and protective immunity to influenza virus challenges was evaluated using a DNA vaccine encoding a C3d fusion of the hemagglutinin (HA) from influenza virus. Plasmids were generated that encoded a transmembrane HA (tmHA), a secreted form of HA (sHA), or a sHA fused to three tandem copies of the murine homologue of the C3d (sHA-3C3d). Analysis of the titers, avidity maturation, and hemagglutinin-inhibition activity of raised antibody revealed that immunizations with sHA-3C3d DNA accelerated both the avidity maturation of antibody to HA and the appearance of hemagglutinin-inhibition activity. These accelerated antibody responses correlated to a more rapid appearance of protective immunity. They also correlated to complete protection from live virus challenge by a single vaccination at a dose ten times lower than the protective dose for non-C3d forms of HA.