Live attenuated varicella vaccine (Oka strain, Biken Institute, Osaka, Japan) was administered to 973 healthy individuals over a 10-year period (1987-1997) at the pediatric clinic of Showa Hospital in Japan. We evaluated the relevant serological and clinical data, which were collected by questionnaire. Seroconversion by the immune adherence hemagglutination method was documented in 94% (805/860) of the initially seronegative subjects. Of the initially seropositive subjects, 56% (63/113) showed enhancement of antibody after vaccination. Reactions to the vaccine were generally insignificant, except for a rash at the injection site, seen in the first 3 days post-administration in 17% (41/241) of the recently vaccinated subjects. In March 1998, we conducted a survey of 559 of the initially seronegative subjects who had received the vaccine 0.6-10. 8 (mean 5.4) years earlier. Of these subjects, 21% (119/559) contracted breakthrough varicella. However, their symptoms were milder than those caused by natural varicella seen in unvaccinated children. Seroconversion was demonstrated in 92% (109/119) of these cases. The incidence of breakthrough disease decreased with a rise in postvaccination antibody titer to >==32. Four of the subjects (0.7% of 559) developed herpes zoster following vaccination, two of whom had earlier exhibited breakthrough varicella. Lesions in one case of zoster, without breakthrough varicella, appeared on the cervical dermatome at the injection site. The vaccine was safe and effective. However, there was a relatively high incidence of rash at the injection site with certain lot numbers used in recent years which warrants investigation.