We examined the prevalence of mumps antibodies in the Israeli population in relation to mumps vaccination policy and past and subsequent incidence of disease. The levels of specific IgG antibodies against mumps were tested in 3330 residual sera collected during 1997–1998 from an age-stratified population sample. Against the background of a consistent MMR vaccination coverage of >90%, the age- and sex-adjusted seropositivity to mumps was 77·0%. No significant differences between genders were found. Seropositivity in the 10–13 years age group, born just before the introduction of the MMR vaccine, was the lowest (59%). These birth cohorts were the target of an outbreak of mumps in 2005 that occurred among high-school students and military recruits. A trend of waning immunity was observed between the first and second vaccine doses. The seroepidemiological data demonstrate that immunity levels below the herd immunity threshold, along with social mixing and crowded conditions facilitated the occurrence of mumps outbreaks. Periodical serosurveys are an essential component in the evaluation of the vaccination policy against mumps.