Routine use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) in developing countries is expected to lead to a significant reduction in childhood deaths. However, PCVs have been associated with replacement disease with non-vaccine serotypes. We established a population-based surveillance system to document the direct and indirect impact of PCVs on the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) and radiological pneumonia in those aged 2 months and older in The Gambia, and to monitor changes in serotype-specific IPD. Here we describe how this surveillance system was set up and is being operated as a partnership between the Medical Research Council Unit and the Gambian Government. This surveillance system is expected to provide crucial information for immunisation policy and serves as a potential model for those introducing routine PCV vaccination in diverse settings.