Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) replicates in lymphoid tissues following peripheral inoculation and a high titre viraemia develops. Encephalitis develops after the virus enters the central nervous system from the blood, with the earliest neuronal involvement being via the olfactory nerve. Following aerosol challenge with virulent VEEV, the virus is thought to replicate in the nasal mucosa and there could be direct entry into the olfactory nerve via infected neuroepithelial cells. Protection from VEEV infection is believed to be primarily mediated by virus specific antibody. The correlation between protection and neutralising serum antibody titres is, however, inconsistent when the virulent virus is administered by the airborne route. This study demonstrates a link between antibody in serum and the nasal mucosa and protection by means of passive immunisation studies. Intra-nasal administration of antibody increased protection against airborne virus in Balb/c mice. Vaccination of mu MT strain mice that do not have functional B cells and cannot produce antibody revealed normal proliferation of spleen cells in vitro and robust cytokine production. Aerosol challenge of mu MT mice demonstrated that complete protection was only achieved when passive immunisation with antibody was supplemented with active immunisation with the TC-83 vaccine strain of the virus. This implies that cell-mediated immune functions are required for protection against airborne challenge with virulent VEEV.