The protective efficacy (PE) of B subunit killed whole-cell (BS-WC) and killed whole-cell-only (WC) oral cholera vaccines was assessed in a randomised double-blind field trial among children aged 2-15 years and women over 15 years in rural Bangladesh. Among the 62 285 subjects who received three doses of BS-WC, WC, or Escherichia coli K12 strain placebo, cumulative PE at 3 years of follow-up was 50% for BS-WC and 52% for WC. PE was similar against severe and non-severe cholera, but was significantly lower in children who were vaccinated at 2-5 years (26% for BS-WC; 23% for WC) than in older persons (63% for BS-WC; 68% for WC). Among persons vaccinated at 2-5 years, protection at 4-6 months of follow-up was similar to that for older persons, but rapidly waned thereafter and was not evident during the third year of follow-up. In contrast, persons vaccinated at older ages were protected even in the third year of follow-up (PE 40% for BS-WC; 62% for WC). PE was substantially higher against classical cholera (58% for BS-WC; 60% for WC) than against El Tor cholera (39% and 40%).