Background: Serum bactericidal antibody titres that correlate with protection against invasive meningococcal disease have been characterised. However, titres that are associated with protection against acquisition of pharyngeal carriage of Neisseria meningitidis are not known. Methods: Sera were obtained from the members of a household in seven countries of the African meningitis belt in which a pharyngeal carrier of N. meningitidis had been identified during a cross-sectional survey. Serum bactericidal antibody titres at baseline were compared between individuals in the household of the carrier who became a carrier of a meningococcus of the same genogroup during six months of subsequent follow-up and household members who did not become a carrier of a meningococcus of this genogroup during this period. Results: Serum bacterial antibody titres were significantly higher in carriers of a serogroup W or Y meningococcus at the time of recruitment than in those who were not a carrier of N. meningitidis of the same genogroup. Serum bactericidal antibody titres to a strain of N. meningitis of the same genogroup as the index cases were no different in individuals who acquired carriage with a meningococcus of the same genogroup as the index case than in those who did not become a carrier during six months of follow-up. Conclusion: Serum bacterial antibody titres to N. meningitidis of genogroup W or Y in the range of those acquired by natural exposure to meningococci of these genogroups, or with cross-reactive bacteria, are not associated with protection against acquisition of carriage with meningococci of either of these genogroups.