The pattern of epidemic meningococcal disease in the African meningitis belt may be influenced by the background level of population immunity but this has been measured infrequently. A standardised enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for measuring meningococcal serogroup A IgG antibodies was established at five centres within the meningitis belt. Antibody concentrations were then measured in 3930 individuals stratified by age and residence from six countries. Seroprevalence by age was used in a catalytic model to determine the force of infection.