Pertussis has re-emerged as a public health problem in Canada in recent years, emphasizing concerns about the effectiveness of the currently licensed whole-cell vaccine. Following a 1994 outbreak in Nova Scotia, we conducted a case-control study of 483 children aged < 10 years to assess vaccine effectiveness. Ninety-three percent of children aged 6 months and above had received three or more doses of vaccine, however, only 78% had received age-appropriate immunization. Among children aged 4 years and more, vaccine effectiveness against laboratory-confirmed pertussis was 57% (95% CI, 23-77%) for age-appropriate immunization (five doses) vs partial or no immunization. Vaccine effectiveness increased with increasing number of doses from 25% (95% CI, -58-65%) for three or more doses to 55% (95% CI, -15-83%) for five doses, compared with 0-2 doses.