Whereas the reproduction ratio (R) of pseudorabies virus (PRV) in vaccinated specific pathogen free (SPF) pigs without maternally derived antibodies under experimental conditions has repeatedly been shown to be significantly below 1, R in vaccinated conventional pigs in the field with maternally derived antibodies was significantly above 1. To exclude the difference in husbandry conditions as a cause for this discrepancy, we quantified and compared the transmission of PRV in both groups under identical experimental conditions. Whereas none of the SPF sentinel pigs became infected (R=0, significantly<1), all conventional sentinel pigs did become infected (R=2.5, significantly>1). Moreover, only one SPF pigs shed virus in saliva, the mean cumulative titre being almost a 100-fold less than in conventional pigs (17 pigs, P=0.003). In addition, the mean proliferation of peripheral blood lymphocytes in response to PRV antigens was significantly higher in SPF pigs than in conventional pigs at all points studied (P<0.0001). Moreover, the virus-neutralising antibody titre after vaccination was significantly higher in SPF pigs than in conventional pigs. We conclude that the discrepancy in transmission between vaccinated SPF pigs and vaccinated conventional pigs cannot be attributed to the experimental conditions.