Healthy adult volunteers were injected either with one of two conjugates composed of Streptococcus pneumoniae type 12F polysaccharide (Pn12F) covalently coupled to diphtheria toxoid or with Pn12F alone (as a component of Pnu-Imune, a 23-valent pneumococcus vaccine). The conjugates induced Pn12F-specific antibody-secreting cells in peripheral blood with numbers and isotype distribution similar to those induced by Pnu-Immune, with immunoglobulin A (IgA) as the predominant isotype. The conjugates also elicited high numbers of diphtheria toxoid-specific antibody-secreting cells of the IgG class. There was no distinct booster effect, since a second dose of the conjugates induced antibody-secreting cells of the IgG class. There was no distinct booster effect, since a second dose of the conjugates induced antibody-secreting cells at significantly lower numbers than after the first dose. In contrast to the cell numbers, the conjugate vaccines induced higher increases of IgA1 Pn12F antibodies in serum than did Pnu-Imune. However, neither the conjugates nor Pnu-Imune induced a secretory antibody response. Antibody levels in serum and saliva correlated poorly with the frequency of antigen-specific antibody-secreting cells. Circulating antibody-secreting cells present 7 days postimmunization were probably not responsible for the high increase of antibodies in serum but rather represented a population of in vivo-activated B cells with the ability to disseminate the humoral response from the antigen recognition site to distant locations of antibody production.