This study sought to determine whether the decline in prevalence of hepatitis A virus (HAV) antibodies detected in Israel in 1977, 1984, and 1987 has continued. The anti-HAV antibody prevalence of a systematic sample of 578 male and female recruits inducted into the Israel Defence Force in 1996 was 38·4%. The reduction in antibody prevalence from 1977 (64%) was highly significant (P<0·001). There was a smaller decrease rate in recruits of European, North American, Australian and South African origin than from elsewhere. A ‘strategy’ that uses active immunization against hepatitis A (inactivated vaccine, instead of gamma globulin) should be considered, particularly in high risk groups such as field units during military service.