- In order to evaluate the true immune status and the effect of revaccination on a young adult population, we collected serum samples from 289 military recruits who were vaccinated during an outbreak in 1991. Most vaccinees, age 18-25 years, had apparently been immunized once before as infants. Sera collected just prior to the vaccination and 14 and 28 days afterwards were tested for measles antibodies by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-IgM. Before vaccination, 46 (15.9%) of the subjects had no HI antibodies, (< 1:4) and 48 (16.6%) had borderline (1:4) HI titer. Following vaccination, only ten (3.5%) remained negative and 19 (6.6%) had borderline titer. The increase in HI antibody titer was inversely proportional to the prevaccination titer, and 159 subjects (55.0%) showed no increase at all. The geometric mean titer (GMT) rose from 9.14 to 21.47. Among the prevaccination-negative subjects (HI < 1:4) 28 (60.9%) reached a postvaccination titer of > or = 1:8, and eight (17.4%) reached a titer of 1:4. Twelve (26.1%) of the negative subjects seroconverted and developed IgM, 16 (35%) seroconverted without IgM, and 18 (39%) remained negative and did not develop IgM. A group of eight vaccinees with prevaccination titer of > or = 1:4 developed IgM. Some were probably infected by the circulating wild-type virus prior to the vaccination. Thus, a total number of 20 of the 289 subjects studied (6.9%) had true negative preimmune status as judged by the IgM test. However, the vaccination campaign prevented further measles cases, apparently by increasing the population's immunity, particularly in individuals with very low titers or without measles antibodies.