The relationship between the level of antibodies in bulk tank milk (BTM) and the within-herd seroprevalence of Coxiella burnetii in cows was assessed. Blood from milking cows and BTM were sampled in 55 infected herds and tested using commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits. The relationship between antibody levels and WHP, which was quantified using a general linear model, was only moderate (R(2)=0·15). Nevertheless, the lowest antibody level in BTM was associated with the lowest mean within-herd prevalence. The present finding indicates that ELISA applied to BTM could identify infected herds with quite low within-herd seroprevalence. For such herds, the vaccination of dairy cows as well as nulliparous heifers using a phase I vaccine could effectively prevent C. burnetii shedding.