[en] The biochemical composition and biophysical behaviour of pulmonary surfactant samples isolated from healthy Belgian White and Blue (BWB) and Holstein Friesian (HF) calves have been investigated and compared. Interesting differences in composition have been demonstrated. In particular, a higher level of total hydrophobic surfactant-associated proteins (SP) (due to higher levels of SP-B and SP-C) is reported in HF calves compared to BWB calves. Higher levels of phosphatidylcholine (PC) and especially the disaturated form of PC were also found in HF as compared to BWB calves. No immediate effect on the surface tension properties evaluated by the pulsating bubble surfactometer was found between the surfactant samples of the two breeds under physiological conditions. However, since a high content of disaturated PC and the presence of the SP-B and SP-C are thought to be essential for the surface activity, we propose that the reported modifications could contribute to the apparently lower resistance of the BWB calves to respiratory troubles in comparison with HF calves. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.