Surveillance for acute respiratory infection (ARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) relies primarily on reports of medically attended illness. Community surveillance could mitigate delays in reporting, allow for timely collection of respiratory tract samples, and characterize cases of non–medically attended ILI representing substantial personal and economic burden. Text messaging could be utilized to perform longitudinal ILI surveillance in a community-based sample but has not been assessed. We recruited 161 households (789 people) in New York City for a study of mobile ARI/ILI surveillance, and selected reporters received text messages twice weekly inquiring whether anyone in the household was ill. Home visits were conducted to obtain nasal swabs from persons with ARI/ILI. Participants were primarily female, Latino, and publicly insured. During the 44-week period from December 2012 through September 2013, 11,282 text messages were sent. In responses to 8,250 (73.1%) messages, a household reported either that someone was ill or no one was ill; 88.9% of responses were received within 4 hours. Swabs were obtained for 361 of 363 reported ARI/ILI episodes. The median time from symptom onset to nasal swab was 2 days; 65.4% of samples were positive for a respiratory pathogen by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. In summary, text messaging promoted rapid ARI/ILI reporting and specimen collection and could represent a promising approach to timely, community-based surveillance.