The correlate of protection for the licensure of meningococcal vaccines is serum bactericidal activity. However, evidence indicates that a complex situation and other mechanisms, such as antibody-mediated, complement-dependent opsonophagocytosis (OP), may play a role in protection and should be investigated in order to understand immunity to this disease. In this study, a high-throughput flow cytometric opsonophagocytic assay (OPA) was optimized. The assay measures the presence of killed fluorescently labeled Neisseria meningitidis within human granulocytes (differentiated HL60 cells) by flow cytometry, using IgG-depleted pooled human plasma as an exogenous source of complement. This method was found to be reliable and correlated with the results of an opsonophagocytic killing assay. The OPA was used to measure OP activity in 1,878 serum samples from individuals ranging from 0 to 99 years of age against N. meningitidis strain NZ98/254 (B: 4:P1.7-2,4). The levels of OP activity in individual serum samples varied greatly. OP activity showed an initial peak in the 6- to 12-month age group corresponding to a peak in disease incidence. The OP activity dropped in childhood until the late teenage years, although there was still a higher percentage of individuals with OP activity than with protective bactericidal antibody titers. OP activity reached a peak in the 30- to 39-year age group and then declined. This later peak in OP activity did not coincide with the young adults in whom peak serum bactericidal activity and disease incidence occurred. The demonstration of OP activity when disease incidence is low and when protective bactericidal antibody titers are not detected may indicate a role for OP in protection from meningococcal disease in these age groups.