Pneumococcal surface protein A (PspA), a cross-reactive protein expressed by all pneumococci, is known to elicit an antibody in animals that can passively protect mice from infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae. A phase I trial with recombinant PspA showed the protein to be immunogenic in humans. Pre- and postimmune serum samples from this trial were examined, and human antibody to PspA could protect mice from pneumococcal infection. The serum samples of subjects immunized twice with 125 g of PspA had >100 times as much antibody per milliliter as was required to consistently protect mice from fatal infection (1.3 g/dose). At least 98% of PspAs fall into PspA sequence/serologic families 1 or 2. Human antibodies elicited by a family 1 PspA protected against infection with S. pneumoniae expressing either family 1 or 2 PspAs and with strains of all 3 capsular types tested: 3, 6A, and 6B. These studies suggest that PspA may have efficacy as a human vaccine. © Oxford University Press 2001.