Milk samples from 135 herds in Brittany were tested by a blocking ELISA for antibodies to bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BvDv) and used to assess the relationship between the bulk milk result and the within-herd prevalence of antibody-positive lactating cows. This relationship was first quantified by using a general linear model and controlling for the number of cows contributing milk to the bulk tank, for the percentage of primiparous cows in the herds and for the number of milkings contributing to the bulk tank. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was then used to define classes of percentage inhibition in the bulk milk associated with minimum intraclass and maximum between-class variances of the within-herd prevalence. Only the percentage inhibition of bulk milk had a significant positive effect on within-herd prevalence (R2=0.85). The ROc analysis provided three classes of bulk milk results corresponding to different expected levels of within-herd prevalence. Herds with bulk milk percentage inhibitions of 0 to 35 per cent, 35 to 60 per cent and 60 to 100 per cent had mean (sd) observed prevalences of 4.8 (5.7) per cent, 21.6 (14.6) per cent and 66.0 (29.3) per cent, respectively. Herds with a bulk milk inhibition of 0 to 35 per cent were expected to be BVDV-free. A herd with two consecutive bulk milk results four months apart of 60 per cent or more was likely to have a very high prevalence (median of 93 per cent) and could be suspected of harbouring an active infection.