In order to establish the mechanism of spray dried plasma powder (SDPP) in improving pig health and performance, a diet containing either 8% SDPP, spray dried immune plasma powder (SDIPP), or control protein (soybean and whey) ration was fed to piglets in an experimental model of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli F4 (ETEC) post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD). SDIPP was obtained from pigs immunized with a vaccine containing ETEC fimbrial subunit F4 and heat-labile toxin (LT), and SDPP from non-immunized controls. Average daily growth (ADG) was determined, and daily samples of rectal faeces were assessed for diarrhoea (as percentage of dry matter), and ETEC excretion (in CFU/g). SDPP and SDIPP significantly (p <0.05) reduced diarrhoea, and SDIPP significantly reduced ETEC excretion. ADG was not significantly (p > 0.05) affected. After the experiment, 30% of piglets tested F4 receptor positive (F4R+). A significant correlation between F4R status and morbidity was found. In F4R+ animals, SDIPP significantly improved diarrhoea and ADG, and decreased ETEC excretion, and SDPP significantly improved diarrhoea and ADG. Surprisingly, SDPP reduced diarrhoea in F4R+ animals without significant reduction of ETEC excretion, which is most likely related to the presence of anti-LT antibodies in SDPP. The results show that oral protection against ETEC by SDPP is attributable to spontaneous antibodies, in this case anti-LT antibodies. Furthermore, the results indicate that the combination of anti-LT and anti-F4 antibodies as in SDIPP is most effective in ETEC prevention. Finally, the F4R distribution in the herd should be taken into account to correctly assess efficacy.