From October 1988 to April 1989, a large mumps outbreak occurred in Douglas County, Kansas. Of the 269 cases, 208 (77.3%) occurred among primary and secondary school students, of whom 203 (97.6%) had documentation of mumps vaccination. Attack rates were highest for students attending junior high school (8.0%), followed by high school (2.0%) and elementary school (0.7%). A retrospective cohort study conducted at one junior high school with an attack rate of 12.9% did not find age at vaccination or type of vaccine received (single or combined antigen) to be risk factors for vaccine failure. Students vaccinated more than 4 years before the outbreak appeared to have a higher attack rate than those vaccinated more recently (relative risk (RR) = 4.3; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.6, 30.0); however, this association did not exist when risk was evaluated based on number of vaccine doses received. Students who had documentation of receiving only one dose of vaccine were at greater risk than those who had received two doses (RR = 5.2; 95% CI = 1.0, 206.2). Overall, vaccine effectiveness among Douglas County junior high school students was estimated to be 83% (95% CI = 57%, 94%). These data suggest that mumps vaccine failure and the failure to vaccinate have contributed to the relative resurgence of mumps observed in the United States since 1986. The recent change in immunization policy to recommend a two-dose schedule of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine should help reduce the occurrence of mumps outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations.