We determined the prevalence of anti-hepatitis B surface antibodies (anti-HBs) among children and adolescents vaccinated for hepatitis B virus in infancy as part of the routine vaccination programme. A representative serum sample of the Israeli population age 0–19 was tested. In a separate pilot study, a booster dose of hepatitis B vaccine was administered to 31 candidates for national service, who were fully vaccinated in infancy and tested negative for hepatitis B surface antibodies at age 17–19 years and anti-HBs antibodies were assessed 8 weeks later. Of the 1273 samples tested, 631 (49·6%) were positive to anti-HBs antibodies. Seropositivity rates were 89·5% among infants aged 6–12 months and declined significantly with age to 20·7% at age 19 years. No differences in seropositivity rates were observed between Jews and Arabs, males and females and those born in Israel and in other countries. Seroconversion rate among the 31 individuals who received a booster dose was 90·3% (95% CI: 75·1–96·6%). We recommend a booster dose for healthcare personnel before starting to work at the health care facility.