Mumps epidemics in Canada and the United States prompted us to review evidence for the effectiveness of 5 different vaccine strains. Early trials with the Jeryl Lynn vaccine strain demonstrated an efficacy of approximately 95%, but in epidemic conditions, the effectiveness has been as low as 62%; this is still considerably better than the effectiveness of another safe strain, Rubini (which has an effectiveness of close to 0% in epidemic conditions). The Urabe vaccine strain has an effectiveness of 54%-87% but is prone to cause aseptic meningitis. Little epidemiological information is available for other vaccines. The Leningrad-Zagreb vaccine strain, which is widely used in developing countries and costs a fraction of what vaccines cost in the developed world, seems to have encouraging results; in 1 study, the effectiveness of this vaccine exceeded 95%. Aseptic meningitis has also been reported in association with this vaccine, but the benign nature of the associated meningitis was shown recently in Croatia. Also, the Leningrad-3 strain seems to be effective but causes less-benign meningitis. No mumps vaccine equals the best vaccines in quality, but the virtually complete safety of some strains may not offset their low effectiveness. Epidemiological data are pivotal in mumps, because serological testing is subject to many interpretation problems.