Vaccination provides a powerful means to control infections. It exploits and exemplifies the ability of the immune system to preserve the information that a specific pathogen has been encountered in the past. The cells and molecular mechanisms of immunological memory are still being discussed controversially. Here, we review the current concepts of memory B cells, the signals involved in their maintenance, and their role in enhanced secondary reactions. Memory plasma cells, secreting protective antibodies over lifetime, have been recognized only recently. Their characterization as cells resting in terms of proliferation and migration, and surviving in dedicated stromal niches, in the absence of antigen, has generated new concepts of how memory cells in general are organized by stroma cells, the 'resting memory'. In autoimmunity and chronic inflammation, memory B cells and memory plasma cells can be essential players, and they require special attention, as they do not respond to most conventional therapies. Their selective targeting will depend on a molecular understanding of their lifestyle.