The goal of this study was to determine the influence of communal pasturing on the spread of bovine virus diarrhoea (BVD). The investigation involved 990 Swiss Braunvieh cattle from 149 different owners on seven communal pastures in the Swiss Alps. Prior to pasturing, blood samples were collected from all animals for examination for BVD antigen and antibodies. Serological examinations were also performed during and after pasturing to determine possible increases in seroprevalence and to determine whether seroprevalence was different on pastures with and without persistently infected cattle. At the start of pasturing, nine (0.9%) animals were persistently viraemic. On three alpine pastures, no persistently viraemic animals were detected. The prevalence of persistently infected cattle on the remaining four pastures varied from 0.3 to 3.9%. Of the 990 animals tested at the start of pasturing, 632 (63.3%) were seropositive. Seroprevalence differed among pastures and varied from 21.8 to 85.9%. During the summer, seroprevalence increased on all pastures surveyed, and at the end of the pasture season, 778 (80.1%) of the 971 cattle that were examined twice were seropositive. The incidence of seroconversion was significantly higher on pastures with persistently infected cattle compared with those without; it ranged from 32.7 to 100.0% in the former and from 6.0 to 22.2 in the latter. The results of this study suggest that communal alpine pasturing does play a role in the spread of BVD. The extent of this role depends on the presence of persistently infected animals.