Epidemiological investigations implicated the semen of artificial insemination (ai) bulls as the only plausible source of infection with bovine viral diarrhoea virus (bvdv) in 10 Finnish dairy herds. The infection was traced back to two northern Finncattle bulls that had been transiently infected when their semen had been collected while they were in a gene bank herd containing persistently infected (pi) animals. The isolates of bvdv from the animals in the gene bank herd, from the semen of the two bulls and from a pi calf born in one of the herds using the semen belonged to a rare genetic type in Finland and, on the basis of the nucleotide sequences in the 5′ untranslated region, were identical. Cross-contamination of batches of semen at the ai station and an external source of bvdv were ruled out for the recipient herds. It was concluded that bvdv infection can be transmitted through the semen of transiently infected bulls under field conditions.