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Serum specimens collected during a prospective study of dengue infections among schoolchildren in Bangkok were tested for their ability to enhance dengue 2 (DEN-2) virus growth in human monocytes in vitro. Two groups of dengue-immune sera were compared: 32 dengue antibody positive serum specimens from children who subsequently developed asymptomatic secondary dengue infections; and 9 dengue antibody positive serum specimens from children who subsequently developed severe symptomatic secondary dengue infections, 8 of which were clinically diagnosed as dengue hemorrhagic fever. Antibody-dependent enhancement of virus growth was quantitated by measurement of virus yields in supernatant fluids of normal human monocyte cultures that were infected with DEN-2 virus in the presence of undiluted test serum. Only 4 of 32 (12%) preinfection sera from asymptomatic children, but 6 of 9 (67%) preinfection sera from symptomatic children, had significant enhancing activity (P < 0.001). High serum DEN-2 antibody dependent enhancing activity is a significant (relative risk = 6.2) risk factor for severe illness among children in a dengue hemorrhagic fever endemic region. Dengue antibodies can be neutralizing and therefore protective, or they can be enhancing and increase the risk of dengue hemorrhagic fever.