Infants and the elderly share a high vulnerability to infections and therefore have specific immunization requirements. Inducing potent and sustained B-cell responses is as challenging in infants as it is in older subjects. Several mechanisms to explain the decreased B-cell responses at the extremes of age apply to both infants and the elderly. These include intrinsic B-cell limitations as well as numerous microenvironmental factors in lymphoid organs and the bone marrow. This Review describes the mechanisms that shape B-cell responses at the extremes of age and how they could be taken into account to design more effective immunization strategies for these high-risk age groups.