The efficacy of different vaccines in protecting elderly individuals against Streptococcus pneumoniae infections is not clear. In the current study, aged mice (22-25 months old) exhibited significantly increased susceptibility to respiratory infection with serotype 3 S. pneumoniae relative to younger adult mice, regardless of whether mice were naive or immunized with native pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPS; Pneumovax23) or protein-PPS conjugate (Prevnar-13) vaccines. Nonetheless, Pneumovax-immunized aged mice developed limited bacteremia following respiratory challenge and exhibited significantly increased survival following systemic challenge relative to Prevnar-immune aged mice and young mice that had received either vaccine. This was explained by >10-fold increases in PPS-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels in Pneumovax-immunized aged mice relative to other groups. Remarkably, PPS3-specific B-cell expansion, IgG switching, plasmablast differentiation, and spleen and bone marrow antibody-secreting cell frequencies were 10-fold higher in aged mice following Pneumovax immunization relative to young mice, due to significantly increased B-1b cell participation. In summary, this study highlights (1) the need to devise strategies to enhance respiratory immunity in aged populations, (2) the diverse responses young and aged populations generate to Pneumovax vs Prevnar vaccines, and (3) the potential value of exploiting B-1b cell responses in aged individuals for increased vaccine efficacy. © 2013 The Author.