To study the antigenic characteristics of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), we developed and evaluated monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to three strains of RSV: 11 to Long, 4 to 18537, and 9 to A2. Six of these MAbs immunoprecipitated the nucleoprotein, six the large glycoprotein, and 11 the fusion protein. By the pattern of the reactions of these MAbs to 16 strains of RSV in an indirect immunofluorescence assay or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, we were able to distinguish three subgroups. With a panel of 10 of these 24 MAbs, we tested 26 strains isolated between 1979 and 1982 in Boston and found that 22 belonged to group 1, 4 to group 2, and none to group 3. The pattern of the reactions of the MAbs against representative strains from the three groups identified nine epitopes by indirect immunofluorescence assay: three of each on the nucleoprotein, the large glycoprotein, and the fusion protein. These results, along with those of previous studies, suggest that groups 1 and 3 are antigenically similar and group 2 is antigenically more distinct.