- Summary The protective efficacy and immunogenicity of a chimeric peptide against West Nile virus (WNV) was evaluated. This virus is the aetiological agent of West Nile fever, which has recently emerged in the western hemisphere. The rapid spread of WNV throughout North America, as well as the constantly changing epidemiology and transmission of the virus by blood transfusion and transplantation, have raised major public-health concerns. Currently, there are no effective treatments for WNV or vaccine for human use. We previously identified a novel, continuous B-cell epitope from domain III of the WNV envelope protein, termed Ep15. To test whether this epitope can protect against WNV infection, we synthesized a linear chimeric peptide composed of Ep15 and the heat-shock protein 60 peptide, p458. The p458 peptide is an effective carrier peptide for subunit vaccines against other infectious agents. We now report that mice immunized with the chimeric peptide, p458-Ep15, were resistant to lethal challenges with three different WNV strains. Moreover, their brains were free of viral genome and infectious virus. Mice immunized with Ep15 alone or with p431-Ep15, a control conjugate, were not protected. The chimeric p458-Ep15 peptide induced WNV-specific immunoglobulin G antibodies that neutralized the virus and induced the secretion of interferon-c in vitro. Challenge of chimeric peptide-immunized mice considerably enhanced WNV-specific neutralizing antibodies. We conclude that this chimeric peptide can be used for formulation of a human vaccine against WNV.