The suboptimal efficacy of the currently available 23-valent pneumococcal vaccine in the growing population of adults >65 years old may be related to the limited immunogenicity of the vaccine polysaccharides in this group. In this study, the majority of elderly outpatients with stable chronic illnesses generated a vigorous IgG response to seven vaccine serotypes comparable to that of healthy young adults at 1, 3, and 16 months after immunization. Moreover, the quality and function of anticapsular antibodies, measured as avidity and in vitro opsonization, were comparable between elderly and young subjects over time. However, a subset (~20%) of elderly outpatients responded to fewer than two of seven serotypes tested 1 and 3 months after immunization, whereas none of the healthy young adults were such poor responders. Thus, despite the adequate mean immune responses of the elderly as a group, a substantial proportion of elderly persons may have poor responses to the currently available pneumococcal vaccine.