An indirect immunofluorescent antibody test (IIFAT) was developed to detect bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1)-specific IgM. All sera were treated with protein-G agarose prior to testing to eliminate the possibility of false-positive results due to IgM-isotype rheumatoid factor (IgM-RF). Specific IgM was first detected 8 days after experimental infection of 3 calves free of maternally derived antibody, with peak responses occurring 2-7 days later. Seroconversion was detected in all 3 calves using a single-dilution enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Following reinfection at 30 days postinfection, a low-level IgM response was detected in only 1 calf. Seroconversion was detected in 2 calves. There was no evidence of activation of IgM-RF by infection or reinfection with BHV-1. When 87 acute and convalescent serum pairs collected from 21 outbreaks of respiratory disease were tested, specific IgM was detected in 58 animals (66.6%) from 19 (90.5%) outbreaks. Seroconversion was detected in 44 of these animals (50.6%) from 17 outbreaks (81.0%). The correlations between these 2 assays on a calf and outbreak basis were 79.3% and 90.5%, respectively. Specific IgM was detected in 17/20 sera (85.0%) collected from an additional outbreak. No virus was detected by virus isolation or immunofluorescent staining in nasal mucus samples collected at the same time. Detection of specific IgM by IIFAT is a useful technique for the serodiagnosis of BHV-1 infection.