The association of salivary antibody (total IgA, IgG, and IgM and antibodies reactive with Streptococcus mutans) and non-antibody (lysozyme, lactoferrin, salivary peroxidase, myeloperoxidase, hypothiocyanite, thiocyanate) defense factors with oral health (past and present dental caries, gingival bleeding, the number of salivary S. mutans and lactobacilli) were studied in 50 naval recruits. Dental caries was significantly associated with large amounts of S. mutans, lactobacilli, and total salivary immunoglobulins and with low salivary flow rate and buffer capacity. Salivary anti-S. mutans antibodies did not correlate with dental caries or S. mutans levels. Moreover, none of the salivary non-antibody factors alone had any strong relationship to dental caries or S. mutans levels. Gingival inflammation was associated with elevated levels of lysozyme in whole saliva. It is concluded that in adults the associations between single-point measurements of most salivary antimicrobial constituents and the factors describing oral health are weak.