Lactating cows were immunized with inactivated Staphylococcus aureus strains and concentrated culture supernatants. Application of a repeated mucosal immunization scheme resulted in significant levels of S. aureus-specific IgA in milk of dairy cows. Average IgA titers against whole cell S. aureus increased during the first 10 weeks of immunization after which a plateau level was reached and maintained during lactation. Immune whey agglutinated both bovine and human S. aureus strains including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains and recognized extracted S. aureus proteins on Western blot. ELISAs to quantify milk IgA reactive with a number of S. aureus virulence proteins (e.g. enterotoxins, microbial surface component recognizing adhesive matrix molecules (MSCRAMMs) and immune modulating proteins) and cell wall components, demonstrated the polyclonality of the IgA. Correlations observed between agglutination and specific IgA titers for whey and for purified IgA suggested functionality of the induced antibodies. Milk from immunized cows may provide a way of producing potentially therapeutic polyclonal antibodies against S. aureus colonization and infection. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.