A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind efficacy trial of a purified gonococcal pilus vaccine composed of a single pilus type was tested in 3123 men and 127 women volunteers. Either 100 micrograms of vaccine or a placebo was given intradermally on day 1 and day 14. Each group was evenly matched with respect to age, sex, prior history of a sexually transmitted disease, sexual exposure during the study and attrition from the study. None of the women volunteers acquired gonorrhoea during the trial. In the male volunteers, 108 vaccine and 102 placebo recipients acquired gonorrhoea 15 days or later after the initial immunization. Vaccines developed a sustained ELISA antibody response to homologous and heterologous pili, but the latter titres were approximately 40% as high as the homologous pilus antibody rises. There were, however, no increases in inhibition of attachment antibody (IEA) titres. Local antibodies (semen) against homologous and heterologous strains were also elicited (ELISA). The vaccine was safe and did not alter the clinical expression of disease. This gonococcal pilus vaccine composed of a single pilus type failed to protect men against gonococcal urethritis.