Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) results in substantial numbers of hospitalisations and deaths in older adults. There are known lifestyle and medical risk factors for pneumococcal disease but the magnitude of the additional risk is not well quantified in Australia. We used a large population-based prospective cohort study of older adults in the state of New South Wales (45 and Up Study) linked to cause-specific hospitalisations, disease notifications and death registrations from 2006 to 2015. We estimated the age-specific incidence of CAP hospitalisation (ICD-10 J12-18), invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) notification and presumptive non-invasive pneumococcal CAP hospitalisation (J13 + J18.1, excluding IPD), comparing those with at least one risk factor to those with no risk factors. The hospitalised case-fatality rate (CFR) included deaths in a 30-day window after hospitalisation. Among 266 951 participants followed for 1 850 000 person-years there were 8747 first hospitalisations for CAP, 157 IPD notifications and 305 non-invasive pneumococcal CAP hospitalisations. In persons 65–84 years, 54.7% had at least one identified risk factor, increasing to 57.0% in those ⩾85 years. The incidence of CAP hospitalisation in those ⩾65 years with at least one risk factor was twofold higher than in those without risk factors, 1091/100 000 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1060–1122) compared with 522/100 000 (95% CI 501–545) and IPD in equivalent groups was almost threefold higher (18.40/100 000 (95% CI 14.61–22.87) vs. 6.82/100 000 (95% CI 4.56–9.79)). The CFR increased with age but there were limited difference by risk status, except in those aged 45 to 64 years. Adults ⩾65 years with at least one risk factor have much higher rates of CAP and IPD suggesting that additional risk factor-based vaccination strategies may be cost-effective.