Human parainfluenza virus type 1 (hPIV-1) infections are a common cause of "croup" and hospitalizations among young children, yet no vaccine is yet available. Sendai virus (mouse PIV-1) is the closest known homologue of hPIV-1. Here we address the possibility of using a xenotropic, nonpathogenic PIV as a vaccine in infants, by assessing the efficacy of hPIV-1 vaccination of infant mice against a subsequent challenge with Sendai virus. hPIV-1 was administered intranasally to mice age 3-6 days and shown by serum antibody ELISA and elispot analysis to elicit virus-specific IgM and isotype-switched antibody-forming cells (AFC). The response was completely cross-reactive between hPIV-1 and Sendai virus. Mice were challenged with Sendai virus 6-8 weeks later and generated AFC and serum antibody responses composed of IgM, as well as IgG and IgA, unlike challenged, age-matched controls. The high IgM response among AFC was not seen in mice primed as adults with hPIV-1 and challenged with Sendai virus. The hPIV-1 priming of infant mice afforded protection, as the majority of these mice survived the lethal Sendai virus challenge, as did all adult primed animals. These data support the notion that the unmodified xenotropic Sendai virus might function effectively in human infants as a vaccine against hPIV-1.