Direct ingestion of the infectious BSE agent via meat and bone meal (MBM) is commonly regarded as the main route of infection for cattle. I propose that another plausible route of infection has been overlooked so far, namely the ingestion of MBM by mother animals who susequently pass on the infectious agent in their colostrum and thus infect their offspring. This theory could explain why, although infection is thought to occur at very early stages in life, many BSE animals had not received MBM containing feeds when calves. Literature evidence on intact protein absorption in adult mammals, on the presence of the infectious BSE agent in the blood in the pre-symptomatic stage, and on the incorporation of intact dietary protein into colostrum or milk in humans and pigs, support this hypothesis. This hypothesis does not necessarily mean that colostrum or milk from BSE-positive animals is infectious. Rather, the mother animals in the hypothesis scenario will be themselves infected, but probably not develop the disease due to its long incubation period, thus occurring in statistics as 'negative' animals.