The aim of this study was to compare pertussis-specific humoral and cellular immunity in children 5 years after a primary vaccination with a combined diphtheria, tetanus, tricomponent acellular pertussis, and hepatitis B vaccine (DTaP-HBV; InfanrixHepB; SmithKline Beecham) with immunity after natural infection. The subjects were 38 children aged 5 to 6 years who received DTaP-HBV at 3, 5, and 11 months of life and 21 subjects of similar ages and sex who acquired pertussis in the first year of life. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody titers against Bordetella pertussis antigens, peripheral blood mononuclear cell-specific proliferation, and the secretion of cytokines were evaluated. After 5 years, only a small proportion of vaccinated and infected children had significant specific concentrations of IgG in serum against all three B. pertussis antigens, and T-cell responses persisted in a minority of subjects. A preferential type 1 cytokine response with the secretion of gamma interferon was observed in the pertussis group, whereas a type 2 skewed response was observed in the vaccinated children; however, the quantitative differences in the cytokines produced by DTaP-HBV and natural infection were minimal. In conclusion, our results show that the immune responses induced by primary pertussis vaccination are qualitatively and quantitatively similar to those seen in children who recovered from natural infection and highlight the need for booster immunization with pertussis vaccines in order to maintain adequate levels of a specific immune response to B. pertussis.