A mouse model of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is described. A high-titered, large-volume inoculum results in replication of RSV to a high titer in lungs of BALB/c mice. Mice older than 15 weeks of age are more susceptible to RSV infection. Titers up to 10(6.9) plaque-forming units (pfu)/gram lung can be attained in 32-week-old mice. Older mice experience a clinical illness manifested by ruffled fur, reduced activity, and weight loss. Lung histology of older mice infected with RSV shows bronchiolitis and increased number of lymphocytes and macrophages in alveolar spaces compared with that of mice less than 8 weeks old. This model will serve as the basis for investigating immunodeterminants of recovery and protection from RSV infection.