Prior infection of mice with a field strain of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) increased the early resistance of euthymic mice to virulent Salmonella typhimurium strain SR-11 infections (as defined by significantly fewer salmonella colony-forming units (cfu) present in spleens and livers 4 days after salmonella infection). This increase in salmonella resistance was observed when the interval between MHV and salmonella infections was 6 days, but not at 3, 10, or 14 day intervals. The mouse Ity locus, which controls the number of intracellular salmonella, had a significant effect on the ability of MHV to induce resistance to salmonella. MHV caused an increase in resistance to salmonella in Itys (salmonella susceptible) mice at all doses of salmonella tested (100 to 10,000 cfu). In the Ityr (salmonella resistant) mice tested the beneficial effect of MHV on salmonella resistance was small and when observed, was only present at salmonella doses of 10,000 cfu or greater. Neither the Lpsd nor Xid mutations affected the ability of MHV to increase resistance to salmonella infection. In contrast to euthymic mice, MHV infection greatly decreased the resistance of athymic (nude) mice to salmonella infection. Since the Nu locus does not affect the resistance of mice to salmonella (at 4 days post salmonella infection), these results indicate that MHV infection and the nude phenotype interact to increase susceptibility to salmonella. These findings re-emphasize the importance of keeping laboratory mice used in research free of MHV and other immunomodulatory pathogens.