This paper discusses what can be expected with regard to efficacy of antibacterial vaccines used in swine, based on the present knowledge of pathogen-host interactions. First, vaccination against bacteria that mainly cause disease by production of exotoxins is considered. Vaccines containing the inactivated toxin or a non-toxic but antigenic recombinant protein derived from the exotoxin can be expected to provide protection against disease. The degree of protection induced by such vaccines varies, however, depending amongst other things on the pathogenesis of the disease. Vaccination against clostridial infections, Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae infections, progressive atrophic rhinitis and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, is considered. The second part of the article deals with vaccination against extracellular bacteria. Protection against these bacteria is generally mediated by antibodies against their surface antigens and certain secreted antigens, but cellular immunity may also play a role. Efficacy of vaccines against swine erysipelas, Streptococcus suis infections, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infections and swine dysentery is discussed. Finally, vaccination against facultatively intracellular bacteria is considered. For protection against these bacteria cell-mediated immunity plays an important role, but antibodies may also be involved. It is generally accepted that live-attenuated vaccines are more suitable for induction of cell-mediated immunity than inactivated vaccines, although this also depends on the adjuvant used in the vaccine. As an example, vaccination against Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium is discussed.