Although epidemiologic data strongly suggest a role for inhaled environmental pollutants in modulating the susceptibility to respiratory infection in humans, the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms have not been well studied in experimental systems. The current study assessed the impact of inhaled diesel engine emissions (DEE) on the host response in vivo to a common pediatric respiratory pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Using a relatively resistant mouse model of RSV infection, prior exposure to either 30 μg/m3 particulate matter (PM) or 1,000 μg/m3 PM of inhaled DEE (6 h/d for seven consecutive days) increased lung inflammation to RSV infection as compared with air-exposed RSV-infected C57Bl/6 mice. Inflammatory cells in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid were increased in a dose-dependent manner with regard to the level of DEE exposure, concomitant with increased levels of inflammatory mediators. Lung histology analysis indicated pronounced peribronchial and peribronchiolar inflammation concordant with the level of DEE exposure during infection. Mucous cell metaplasia was markedly increased in the airway epithelium of DEE-exposed mice following RSV infection. Interestingly, both airway and alveolar host defense and immunomodulatory proteins were attenuated during RSV infection by prior DEE exposure. DEE-induced changes in inflammatory and lung epithelial responses to infection were associated with increased RSV gene expression in the lungs following DEE exposure. These findings are consistent with the concept that DEE exposure modulates the lung host defense to respiratory viral infections and may alter the susceptibility to respiratory infections leading to increased lung disease.