Pneumococcal surface protein A (PspA) is a highly variable protein found on all strains of pneumococci. To be successful, a PspA-based vaccine for S. pneumoniae must induce antibodies that are broadly cross-reactive. To address whether cross-reactive antibodies could be induced in man, we evaluated serum from adults immunized with recombinant clade 2 PspA from strain Rx1. Immunization with 5-125 μg rPspA lead to a significant increase in circulating anti-PspA antibodies, as well as antibodies reactive to heterologous rPspA molecules. Increased binding of post-immune sera to 37 pneumococcal strains expressing a variety of PspA and capsule types was observed, versus pre-immune sera. The extent of cross-clade reactivity of human anti-rPspA followed roughly the amount of sequence homology to the non- clade 2 antigens. It is hypothesized that priming of humans by natural exposure to S. pneumoniae contributes to the breadth of the cross-reactivity of antibody to PspA. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.