The objective of this study is to evaluate how increasing MMR infant vaccination coverage in recent years has modified the epidemiology of rubella in Italy. A cross-sectional population-based seroprevalence study of rubella antibodies was conducted on 3094 sera, in 2004, and results were compared with data obtained by the same method in 1996. The overall proportion of rubella-seropositive individuals was found to be significantly higher in 2004 with respect to 1996 (84·6% vs. 77·4%). However, an increase in seropositivity was observed only in the 1–19 years age groups. Recent increases in childhood MMR vaccination coverage, therefore, have not had an impact on seroprevalence in women of childbearing age, over 5% of whom remain susceptible to rubella. Preconception screening and postpartum vaccination of susceptible women are fundamental if the WHO target of less than one case of congenital rubella syndrome per 100 000 live births is to be attained.