Infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) is a birnavirus of economic importance to the poultry industry. The virus infects B cells, causing morbidity, mortality, and immunosuppression in infected birds. In this study, we describe the isolation of chicken primary bursal cells from the bursa of Fabricius, the culture and infection of the cells with IBDV, and the quantification of viral replication. The addition of chicken CD40 ligand significantly increased cell proliferation fourfold over six days of culture and significantly enhanced cell viability. Two strains of IBDV, a cell-culture adapted strain, D78, and a very virulent strain, UK661, replicated well in the ex vivo cell cultures. This model will be of use in determining how cells respond to IBDV infection and will permit a reduction in the number of infected birds used in IBDV pathogenesis studies. The model can also be expanded to include other viruses and could be applied to different species of birds.