Eight Beagle dogs were inoculated intrabronchially with 5 x 10(9) live, avirulent cells of Bordetella bronchiseptica L-414 strain (phase I cells) (B. bronchiseptica) to investigate the serum levels of their C-reactive protein, the white blood cell counts, the antibody responses to B. bronchiseptica in the sera and tracheal secretions, and the effects of prednisolone given to four of the dogs on C-reactive protein (CRP), white blood cells (WBC) and immune responses. In two Beagle dogs inoculated intrabronchially with sterile physiological saline, the concentrations of CRP and the WBC counts did not increase. CRP was markedly increased one day after inoculation in the dogs inoculated with B. bronchiseptica to 385.0-720.0 micrograms/ml (mean 498 +/- 132 micrograms/ml) in the group given the B. bronchiseptica inoculation only, and to 372.0-649.0 micrograms/ml (mean 551 +/- 106 micrograms/ml) in the group treated with prednisolone following inoculation of B. bronchiseptica, as determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The CRP levels were 23-95 times the pre-inoculation values, which indicated that prednisolone had no effect on the production of CRP. In the prednisolone-treated group, the WBC count increased and stayed at an increased level for approximately 12 days. An indirect fluorescent antibody test led to the detection of anti-B. bronchiseptica IgM and IgG antibodies in the sera from 5 days after B. bronchiseptica inoculation and S-IgA and IgG anti-B. bronchiseptica antibodies in the tracheal secretions on the day after the challenge exposure to B. bronchiseptica. The increase in CRP after challenge exposure to B. bronchiseptica was significantly (p < 0.05) smaller than that found after the first inoculation of B. bronchiseptica.