The incidence of invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease in the UK fell rapidly following the introduction of routine vaccination in 1992 and the implementation of a catch-up campaign in children under 4 years old in 1992-93. However, since 1999 the number of cases of Hib has been increasing, and in 2002 there were 134 cases in 0-4 year olds (266 in all ages). While still much less than the prevaccine burden of disease (over 800 cases a year in 0-4 year olds), this increase in incidence is worrying and has sparked a range of detailed investigations. In February 2003, the Department of Health announced a second catch-up campaign offering all children between 6 months and 4 years a further dose of Hib vaccine. The epidemiology of Hib disease in England and Wales between 1990 and 2002 is reviewed here to provide a context for this public health response.