A DEN-2 epidemic occurred in French Polynesia from August 1996 to April 1997 after 7 years of DEN-3 circulation. The susceptible population constituted all expatriates and Polynesians under 21. In August 1996, two successive DEN-2 cases occurred in Teroma, a Tahitian neighbourhood close to the international airport of Tahiti. A serological prospective study of persons < 21 years living in Teroma was conducted. The study population was bled in September 1996, October 1996 and June 1997. Analysis of dengue spread in Teroma confirmed that dengue transmission occurs primarily in the house, thus vector control campaigns should incorporate focal insecticide spraying and systematic daily use of insecticide in houses. The evolution in time of the disease demonstrated that among a susceptible population, prevalence and incidence rates are related to the time of exposure, and consequently to age. Comparison of dengue incidence or dengue prevalence between populations therefore requires adjusted age rates. Most studies did not adjust for age, leading to the conclusion that DHF is more frequent during secondary than during primary dengue infection. Prospective studies taking into account the time of dengue exposure are necessary to confirm the sequential infection hypothesis.