Bulk milk from 60 herds of dairy cattle in a rural region in the central highlands of Peru was tested for antibodies to bovine viral-diarrhoea virus (BVDV) and bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1). None of the herds had been vaccinated against BVDV or BHV-1. Commercially available indirect ELISA-kits were used for antibody detection. True prevalences of BVDV and BHV-1 antibody-positive herds were 96 and 51%, respectively. A relatively low proportion of strongly positive herds suggests, however, a low prevalence of active BVDV infection. BVDV optical densities (ODs) in bulk milk increased with herd size - indicating a higher within-herd prevalence in the larger herds (probably, in part a consequence of a higher rate of animal movement into these herds). For BHV-1, this pattern was not found; a relatively high proportion of the herds was free from BHV-1 infection in each size category. This could indicate a low rate of reactivation of latent BHV-1 infection. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.