White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is an important cause of mortality and economiclosses in shrimp farming. Although WSSV‐induced mortality is virus dose dependentand WSSV infection does not necessarily lead to mortality, the relationshipsbetween virus‐particle dose, infection and mortality have not been analysed quanti-tatively. Here, we explored WSSV dose–response by a combination of experiments,modelling and meta‐analysis. We performed dose–response experiments inPenaeusvannameipostlarvae, recorded host mortality and detected WSSV infection. Whenwe fitted infection models to these data, two models—differing in whether theyincorporated heterogeneous host susceptibility to the virus or not—were supportedfor two independent experiments. To determine the generality of these results, wereanalysed published data sets and then performed a meta‐analysis. We found thatWSSV dose–response kinetics is indeed variable over experiments. We could notclearly identify which specific infection model has the most support by meta‐analy-sis, but we argue that these results also are most concordant with a model incorpo-rating varying levels of heterogeneous host susceptibility to WSSV. We haveidentified suitable models for analysing WSSV dose–response, which can elucidatethe most basic virus–host interactions and help to avoid underestimating WSSVinfection at low virus doses.