Experimental studies have shown that the size and infectious-stage of viral inoculum influence disease outcomes in rhesus macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus. The possible contribution to disease outcome of antibody developed after transmission and/or present in the inoculum in free or bound form is not understood. In this study, we develop a mathematical model of virus-antibody immune complex formation and use it to predict their role in transmission and protection. The model exhibits a bistable switch between clearance and persistence states. We fitted it to temporal virus data and estimated the parameter values for free virus infectivity rate and antibody carrying capacity for which the model transitions between virus clearance and persistence when the initial conditions (in particular the ratio of immune complexes to free virus) vary. We used these results to quantify the minimum virus amount in the inoculum needed to establish persistent infections in the presence and absence of protective antibodies.