Antigenic drift of swine influenza A (H3N2) viruses away from the human A/Port Chalmers/1/73 (H3N2) strain, used in current commercial swine influenza vaccines, has been demonstrated in The Netherlands and Belgium. Therefore, replacement of this human strain by a more recent swine H3N2 isolate has to be considered. In this study, the efficacy of a current commercial swine influenza vaccine to protect pigs against a recent Dutch field strain (A/Sw/Oedenrode/96) was assessed. To evaluate the level of protection induced by the vaccine it was compared with the optimal protection induced by a previous homologous infection. Development of fever, virus excretion, and viral transmission to unchallenged group mates were determined to evaluate protection. The vaccine appeared efficacious in the experiment because it was able to prevent fever and virus transmission to the unchallenged group mates. Nevertheless, the protection conferred by the vaccine was sub-optimal because vaccinated pigs excreted influenza virus for a short period of time after challenge, whereas naturally immune pigs appeared completely protected. The immune response was monitored, to investigate why the vaccine conferred a sub-optimal protection. The haemagglutination inhibiting and virus neutralising antibody responses in sera, the nucleoprotein-specific IgM, IgG, and IgA antibody responses in sera and nasal secretions and the influenza-specific lymphoproliferation responses in the blood were studied. Vaccinated pigs developed the same or higher serum haemagglutination inhibiting, virus neutralising, and nucleoprotein-specific IgG antibody titres as infected pigs but lower nasal IgA titres and lymphoproliferation responses. The lower mucosal and cell-mediated immune responses may explain why protection after vaccination was sub-optimal.