Since the first recognition of outbreaks of cerebrospinal or spotted fever at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, the menace of the meningococcus has been high on the list of public health prio- ties. Few if any pathogens surpass the meningococcus in the rapidity and sev- ity with which it devastates previously healthy individuals. The challenge of understanding the biology of this fascinating microbe is immense, but few will doubt that successful control of meningococcal meningitis and septicemia will only transpire through the application of a body of extraordinary detailed inf- mation, including key minutiae of its molecular biology. In the first of two companion volumes, Meningococcal Vaccines, the team of experts gathered by Andy Pollard and Martin Maiden converge to p- vide an impressive accumulation of molecular tools with which to lay bare the secrets of the meningococcus. The results of this ambitious and welcome v- ume represent an exciting and much needed resource for all of us in the field.