Recombinant baculoviruses were used to produce human B19 parvovirus empty capsids composed of only VP2 and VP2 capsids containing 4%, 25%, 35%, or 41% VP1 protein. Immunogenicity of the purified capsids, formulated with or without adjuvant, was evaluated in mice, guinea pigs, and rabbits. Sera were analyzed for total anti-B19 parvovirus antibodies, antibodies specific to the region unique to the VP1 capsid protein, and virus neutralizing antibodies. A relationship was observed between the development of antibodies specific to sequences unique to the VP1 protein and virus neutralization. The polypeptide composition of the empty capsid immunogens appeared to be important for elicitation of potent virus neutralizing activity. VP2 capsid immunogens devoid of VP1 protein, or consisting of only 4% VP1, the composition of naturally occurring virions, were generally poor at eliciting high levels of virus neutralizing activity. Capsids consisting of > or = 25% VP1 protein efficiently and consistently provoked vigorous B19 virus neutralizing responses. Recombinant empty capsids enriched for the VP1 protein should serve as the basis for a human B19 parvovirus vaccine.