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Five splenectomized patients suffered six episodes of bacterial meningitis with positive cerebrospinal fluid cultures. They were admitted to the Nottingham hospitals between 1974 and 1985. The infecting organism in all cases was Streptococcus pneumoniae. Only one patient, who survived, had had pneumococcal vaccine; two patients died in spite of intensive therapy. There is now good evidence for giving prophylactic penicillin to asplenic patients but the efficacy of the pneumococcal vaccine remains uncertain.