BACKGROUND: Routine administration of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine to adolescents and certain high risk groups is recommended in the United States and Canada. We compared the immunogenicity and safety of an investigational quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine conjugated to CRM-197 (MenACWY-CRM) with a licensed quadrivalent vaccine conjugated to diphtheria toxoid (MCV4) in children aged 2-10 years. METHODS: Eligible 2-5-year-olds were randomized 1:2:2 to receive either 2 doses of MenACWY-CRM, or 1 dose of MenACWY-CRM or MCV4; 6-10-year-olds were randomized 1:1 to receive a single dose of MenACWY-CRM or MCV4. The primary immunogenicity assessment was seroresponse separately for the two age cohorts 28 days following a single dose of MenACWY-CRM or MCV4. Noninferiority and superiority criteria were predefined. Solicited injection-site and systemic reactions were collected for the 7 days postvaccination. RESULTS: A total of 2907 children were randomized to receive study vaccine. MenACWY-CRM met statistical superiority criteria vs. MCV4 for groups W and Y and was noninferior for group C in both age strata. For group A, noninferiority criteria were not met; the group A seroresponse rates for MenACWY-CRM and MCV4, respectively were 72% (95% confidence interval 68-75%) and 77% (73-80%) in 2-5-year-olds and 77% (73-80%) and 83% (79-86%) in 6-10-year-olds. When the two age strata were combined (2-10-year-old children), MenACWY-CRM was noninferior to MCV4 for all four groups, and statistically superior for groups C, W, and Y. Safety parameters were similar across age cohorts and vaccines groups. CONCLUSIONS: MenACWY-CRM and MCV4 were immunogenic and well tolerated in children aged 2-10 years. Seroresponse to MenACWY-CRM was statistically noninferior to MCV4 for all groups, and statistically superior for groups C, W, and Y. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00616421.