Bovine mastitis is an infectious disease with a major economic influence on the dairy industry worldwide. Many factors such as environment, pathogen, and host affect susceptibility or resistance of an individual cow to bovine mastitis. Recently, there has been considerable interest in defining genetic and immunological markers that could be used to select for improved disease resistance. In this study we have analyzed the lymphocyte subpopulations of mastitis-resistant and susceptible cows using monoclonal antibodies specific for bovine leukocyte differentiation antigens and flow cytometry. We have also used a microarray typing technique to define the bovine leukocyte antigen (BoLA) class I and class II haplotypes associated with resistance or susceptibility to bovine mastitis. A striking finding of the present study is that susceptibility to mastitis was associated with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) haplotypes that have only a single set of DQ genes. The study also revealed that susceptible cows had CD4:CD8 ratios of less than one in both their mammary gland secretions and peripheral blood. These results raise the possibility that the number of DQ genes that a cow has and/or a cow's CD4:CD8 ratio could be used as indicators of susceptibility to bovine mastitis.