After the occurrence of a case of chickenpox in Switzerland's largest pre-trial prison, protective measures including post-exposure vaccination were implemented, as chickenpox can cause severe complications in adults. Serology for chickenpox was carried out for all contacts of the index case and rapid post-exposure vaccination proposed to all prisoners with a negative history for chickenpox. Susceptibility was found in 14 out of 110 prisoners (12.7%; 95% confidence interval 6.5-18.9). The positive predictive value of a history of chickenpox was 90%. In this predominantly migrant population, susceptibility to chickenpox was approximately 6 times higher than in the general Swiss adult population. Since the attack rate among susceptible household contacts is usually high, preventive measures such as vaccination and quarantine probably allowed containment of the spread of infection.