Healthy individuals acquire a comparatively lower concentration of antibody to pneumolysin than to pneumococcal capsular polysaccharides from natural exposure to pneumococcal bacteria. Patients infected by pneumococcal bacteria have lower specific IgG antibody concentrations to both antigens than healthy individuals. These findings support the view that pneumolysin could potentially be used as a vaccine. For enhanced effectiveness, it could be used as a supplement to Pneumovax((R))II rather than as a replacement. The two acquired antibodies, i.e. to pneumolysin and to capsular polysaccharide, could then play their protective roles at different stages in the course of pneumococcal infection, and together contribute to an effective immune defence against Streptococcus pneumoniae.