Antibodies to the meningococcal serosubtype-specific P1.7,16 protein and its variable regions (VR) were analysed in 28 convalescent sera drawn 8-36 months after systemic meningococcal disease by immunoblotting and enzyme immunoassay (EIA) methods. EIA antigens were the meningococcal P1.7,16 protein, produced in Bacillus subtilis, and peptides covering its VR1 (P1.7 region) and VR2 (P1.16 region) inserted into a bacterial penicillinase protein. In the immunoblotting method, three meningococcal reference strains were used; they expressed either the P1.7,16 protein, or only its VR1 or VR2 epitopes in their class 1 proteins. Both methods showed a strong IgG response in four sera to P1.7,16 and VR2, but not to VR1; 18 sera had no or weak anti-class 1 protein activity. The six remaining sera were positive only on blots. The VR2-specific sera had 30-fold higher bactericidal activity than those with negligible P1.7,16 responses. Previous vaccination of the patients with a B:15:P1.7,16 meningococcal vaccine was associated with a strong anti-P1.7,16 and anti-VR2 booster response that declined with time. The subtype-specific antibody activity in some sera indicated colonisation after disease by meningococci with class 1 proteins different from the strain that had caused disease.