A two-dose mass vaccination programme with a combined vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) was adopted in the Netherlands in 1987, replacing the selective schoolgirl vaccination strategy introduced in 1974. To obtain insight into the effect of mass vaccination and the population's immunity, the antibody levels against rubella were studied in the general Dutch population and in religious groups refusing vaccination. In the national sample, we observed a high prevalence (96·5%) for rubella antibodies in vaccinated cohorts as well as in the older unvaccinated cohorts. No indications of rapidly waning immunity after vaccination were found. There are indications of low virus circulation in the last few years. The very high seroprevalence in women at childbearing age is consistent with the few reported cases of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) at present. However, individuals in the age group of 1–9 years who are not vaccinated for religious or other reasons have a considerably lower seroprevalence and thus there is a potential risk of a CRS outbreak in the future.