Vaccination of neonates with Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) may be a strategy that overcomes reduced vaccine efficacy associated with exposure to environmental mycobacteria in humans and cattle. Preliminary comparisons indicated that 2-week-old calves produced an immune response to vaccination at least as intense as that observed in adults. Subsequently, five gnotobiotic hysterotomy derived calves aged 1 day were inoculated with BCG and 3 months later were challenged intranasally with virulent M. bovis. The number of tissues with lesions and the pathological extent of these lesions was reduced significantly in vaccinates. Furthermore, lesions were evident in the lung or associated chest lymph nodes of four of five controls but none of five vaccinates. BCG vaccination reduced significantly the level of bacterial colonization. However, lesions in the head associated lymph nodes were observed in three of five BCG-vaccinated cattle. Levels of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) in individual vaccinated animals at challenge did not correlate with subsequent resistance and in general immune responses post-challenge were lower in vaccinated calves. Low IL-10 responses were evident but IL-4 was not detected. Responses to ESAT-6 and/or CFP-10 were evident in four of four control calves that had lesions. Two of the BCG vaccinates with lesions did not produce a response to ESAT-6 and CFP-10, indicating that these antigens did not distinguish vaccinated immune animals from vaccinated animals with lesions. Overall, vaccination of neonatal calves with BCG induced significant protection against disease and has potential as a strategy for the reduction of the incidence of bovine tuberculosis.