Serological surveillance of measles immunity has been carried out in England since 1986/7. Results from sera collected in 1989–91 revealed that the proportion of school age children who were susceptible to measles was increasing, following the introduction of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination programme in October 1988. Mathematical models are used to interpret these data and determine whether this increasing susceptibility is sufficient to allow a resurgence of disease from the low levels achieved by 1993. The models summarize serological profiles by a single parameter, the reproduction number R, which quantifies the level of herd immunity in the population. Results showed that there was cause for concern over the levels of susceptibility to measles, with an epidemic of over 100000 cases likely in 1995/6. These predictions are consistent with trends in the incidence and age distribution of measles and have enabled the planning of a major vaccination campaign.