Bacterial antibodies were studied in acute, intermediate and convalescent phase sera (mean duration from first to last sample 36 days) of 121 children hospitalized for acute lower respiratory tract infection. Antibody responses were observed in 45% of all cases and in 29% of the 21 children < 1 year old. A total of 15 responses to Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumolysin), 20 to Haemophilus influenzae, 9 to Moraxella catarrhalis, 3 to chlamydiae and 8 to Mycoplasma pneumoniae were found. In 79 patients with 4 consecutive samples available, 52% of the 31 responses were measurable within 5 days from admission. Overall the responses were not associated with upper respiratory tract bacterial findings or acute otitis media. Significantly more responses were found in the 121 children with acute lower respiratory tract infection than in healthy controls (P < 0.007). We conclude that bacterial antibody assays provide a useful tool in the study of the etiology of acute lower respiratory tract infection in young children, even if the interval between paired serum samples is short.