The results of the haemagglutination-inhibiting (HI) antibody test for influenza virus antibody in human sera closely match those produced by virus neutralization assays and are predictive of protection. On the basis of the data derived from 12 publications concerning healthy adults, we estimated the median HI titre protecting 50% of the vaccinees against the virus concerned at 28. This finding supports the current policy requiring vaccines to induce serum HI titres of > or = 40 to the vaccine viruses in the majority of the vaccinees. Unfortunately similar studies are scanty for the elderly, the group most at risk of influenza. There still remain many unsolved technical problems with the HI assay and we recommend that these problems be studied and the virus neutralization test as a predictor of resistance to influenza be assessed. Although the studies on this issue often give conflicting results, they generally show that HI antibody responses to influenza vaccination tend to diminish with increasing age, when health is often compromized. Advanced age in itself seems not to be an independent factor in this process. However, even in completely healthy elderly individuals the response to vaccination with an antigenically new virus may be strongly reduced compared with younger vaccinees.