Tuberculosis caused by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Mycobacterium bovis is a significant disease of man and animals. Whilst cellular immunity is the major immunological component required for protection against these organisms, recent reports have suggested that monoclonal antibodies can modify infection with M. tuberculosis. To test whether the same was true for M. bovis infection, we determined the effect of preincubation of M. bovis with a monoclonal antibody on subsequent intravenous infection of mice. Antibodies bound to the surface of M. bovis increased the survival time of mice infected with M. bovis and changed the morphology of granulomas and the distribution of acid-fast bacilli in the lung. These studies suggest that antibodies directed to the surface of virulent mycobacteria can modulate their virulence in vivo.