Rhoptry-associated protein 1 (RAP-1) is a targeted vaccine antigen for Babesia bovis and Babesia bigemina infections of cattle. The 60-kDa B. bovis RAP-1 is recognized by antibodies and T lymphocytes from cattle that recovered from infection and were immune to subsequent challenge. Immunization with native or recombinant protein was reported to reduce parasitemias in challenged animals. We recently reported that the NT domain of B. bovis RAP-1 contained immunodominant T-cell epitopes, whereas the repeat-rich CT domain was less immunostimulatory for T lymphocytes from cattle immune to B. bovis. The present study was therefore designed to test the hypothesis that the NT region of RAP-1, used as a vaccine with interleukin-12 and RIBI (catalog no. R-730; RIBI Immunochem Research, Inc., Hamilton, Mont. [now Corixa, Seattle, Wash.]) adjuvant to induce a type 1 response, would prime calves for antibody and T-helper cell responses comparable to or greater than those induced by full-length RAP-1 containing the C-terminal repeats. Furthermore, a type 1 immune response to RAP-1 was hypothesized to induce protection against challenge. Following four inoculations of either recombinant full-length RAP-1 or RAP-1 NT protein, RAP-1-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) titers, T-lymphocyte proliferation, and gamma interferon production were similar. Similar numbers of NT region peptides were recognized. However, in spite of the presence of strong RAP-1-specific IgG and CD4(+)-T-lymphocyte responses that were recalled upon challenge, neither antigen stimulated a protective immune response. We conclude that successful priming of calves with recombinant RAP-1 and adjuvants that elicit strong Th1 cell and IgG responses is insufficient to protect calves against virulent B. bovis challenge.