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Dairy cows are especially vulnerable to intramammary infection by the bacterial pathogen Streptococcus uberis in the dry period. Use of immunotherapeutic agents at drying off could increase cellular defences in the gland and prevent establishment of new S. uberis infections. This study investigated the potential of infusing recombinant bovine interleukin-1 β (rbIL-1β) in the mammary glands as a prophylactic agent against subsequent intramammary challenge with S. uberis in the early dry period. Immediately after the last milking at commencement of the dry period, one cow from each of 10 monozygous twinsets was infused with 10 μg of rbIL-1β in two quarters and the other twin was infused with the carrier agent, sterile phosphate buffered saline. Twenty-four hours later, the quarters were infused with 103 colony-forming units (CFU) of S. uberis. Bacteriology, somatic cell count (SCC), concentrations of specific cytokines and antibody responses were monitored in mammary gland secretions and sera for the next 21 days. Infusion of rbIL-1β into mammary glands at commencement of the dry period was associated with less new S. uberis intramammary infections, as determined by the number of quarters with bacterial growth. However, high SCC in quarters following infusion of rbIL-1β masked the full beneficial effect of this procedure.