A syngeneic monoclonal anti-idiotope that behaves as an internal image of the mammalian reovirus type 3 cellular attachment protein (viral hemagglutinin) was used in the syngeneic host for the induction of a prophylactic anti-viral antibody response. These studies were performed without the aid of co-stimulation by viral antigens. The high stringency of this system enables us to define the maximum constraints on the use of anti-idiotopes as anti-viral vaccines. We have used the murine BALB/c monoclonal IgM anti-idiotope 87.92.6 to study the idiotope and antigen specificity, kinetics, dose dependence, adjuvant, carrier, and valency requirements of anti-idiotope-induced anti-viral antibody responses. These studies show that the production of high titer neutralizing antibody requires a lengthy (60 day) immunization protocol, which includes the use of adjuvant and multivalent anti-idiotope, and is dependent on anti-idiotope concentrations of greater than 50 micrograms. When administered in this manner anti-idiotope can stimulate serotype-specific antibody responses across species barriers at levels comparable with those obtained after inoculation with virus. The practical efficacy of these reagents and procedures is documented by the ability of maternal immunization with anti-idiotope to confer complete protection in neonates from a potentially lethal reovirus type 3 viral infection.