Lymphocyte subsets isolated from germ-free piglets experimentally infected with swine influenza virus (SIV), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) or porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) were studied and the profile of these subsets among these three infections was monitored. Germ-free piglets were used since their response could be directly correlated to the viral infection. Because SIV infections are resolved even by colostrum-deprived neonates whereas PRRSV and PCV2 infections are not, SIV was used as a benchmark for an effectively resolved viral infection. PRRSV caused a large increase in the proportion of lymphocytes at the site of infection and rapid differentiation of B cells leading to a high level of Ig-producing cells but a severe reduction in CD2-CD21+ primed B cells. Unlike SIV and PCV2, PRRSV also caused an increase in terminally differentiated subset of CD2+CD8α+ γδ cells and polyclonal expansion of major Vβ families suggesting that non-specific helper T cells drive swift B cell activation. Distinct from infections with SIV and PRRSV, PCV2 infection led to the: (a) prevalence of MHC-II+ T cytotoxic cells, (b) restriction of the T helper compartment in the respiratory tract, (c) generation of a high proportion of FoxP3+ T cells in the blood and (d) selective expansion of IgA and IgE suggesting this virus elicits a mucosal immune response. Our findings suggest that PRRSV and PCV2 may negatively modulate the host immune system by different mechanisms which may explain their persistence.