The characteristics of the immunity induced by viral antigens or conferred by antiviral antibody via different routes of administration were evaluated comparatively. C57BL/6 mice were immunized via intranasal, intradermal or enteric routes with a live recombinant vaccinia virus expressing the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) F glycoprotein (F.rVV) or RSV, and then challenged intranasally with RSV. Inhibition of RSV replication was observed in the lungs of all the mice; however, only intranasal immunization hindered virus replication in the nose. Lung inflammation, characterized by infiltration of neutrophils and of mononuclear cells was strongest in the intradermally immunized mice, but was observed in all F.rVV immunized mice to various degrees. Intranasal administration of a potently neutralizing human anti-RSV antibody Fab fragment to infected mice inhibited RSV replication in the nose and, when combined with intraperitoneal administration, protected both the lung and the nose in the absence of deleterious lung pathology. These data suggest that intranasal immunization with F.rVV reduces RSV replication in the respiratory tract, but still induces pathological lung inflammation, even though this is milder than that observed following intradermal immunization. Local neutralizing antibody is indispensable for protection in the nose.