Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a mucosally restricted pathogen that can cause severe respiratory disease. Although parenteral administration of sufficient RSV-specific IgG can reduce severity of lower respiratory tract infection in high-risk infants, delivery of antibody by direct airway administration is an attractive alternative. Topical and parenteral administration of an IgA monoclonal antibody (MAb) specific for the RSV F glycoprotein was compared with an IgG MAb, specific for the same antigenic site, for ability to protect mice against RSV infection. Administration of RSV-specific IgG was more effective in reducing RSV titers in lung (4.6 log10 pfu/g) than IgA MAb (3.6 log10 pfu/g) when given intranasally immediately prior to infection (P=.005). RSV titers in the nose were reduced only by prophylactic administration of IgG parenterally. Therefore, topical administration of IgA is no more effective than topically administered IgG and is less effective than systemically administered IgG for protecting against RSV infection.