The degree of antigenic relatedness between human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) subgroups A and B was estimated from antibody responses induced in cotton rats by respiratory tract infection with RSV. Glycoprotein-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays of antibody responses induced by RSV infection demonstrated that the F glycoproteins of subgroups A and B were antigenically closely related (relatedness, R approximately 50%), whereas the G glycoproteins were only distantly related (R approximately 5%). Intermediate levels of antigenic relatedness (R approximately 25%) were seen in neutralizing antibodies from cotton rats infected with RSV of the two subgroups. Immunity against the F glycoprotein of subgroup A, induced by vaccinia-A2-F, conferred a high level of protection which was of comparable magnitude against challenge by RSV of either subgroup. In comparison, immunity against the G glycoprotein of subgroup A, induced by vaccinia-A2-G, conferred less complete, but significant, protection. Importantly, in vaccinia-A2-G-immunized animals, suppression of homologous challenge virus replication was significantly greater (13-fold) than that observed for the heterologous virus.