An experiment was performed to develop a model to study the impact of stress on responsiveness to infection with bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV1) in veal calves. Social isolation after previous group-housing was used as a putatively stressful treatment. Group-housed specific pathogen-free veal calves (n=8) were experimentally infected with BHV1 at the age of 12 weeks. Half of the calves were socially isolated at the time of infection. Clinical, virological and serological responses to BHV1, and adreno-cortical reactivity to exogenous ACTH were examined. In comparison with group-housed calves, calves socially isolated at the time of infection showed a diminished clinical and fever response, and delayed viral excretion after primary infection with BHV1. Four weeks after social isolation, basal cortisol levels before, and the integrated cortisol response after administration of a low dose of ACTH, were significantly depressed in socially isolated calves. The results suggest that social isolation in veal calves influences the response to an experimental BHV1 infection. A possible mechanism is discussed.