Avian influenza (AI) virus strains vary in antigenicity, and antigenic differences between circulating field virus and vaccine virus will affect the effectiveness of vaccination of poultry. Antigenic relatedness can be assessed by measuring serological cross-reactivity using haemagglutination inhibition (HI) tests. Our study aims to determine the relation between antigenic relatedness expressed by the Archetti-Horsfall ratio, and reduction of virus transmission of highly pathogenic H5N1 AI strains among vaccinated layers. Two vaccines were examined, derived from H5N1 AI virus strains A/Ck/WJava/Sukabumi/006/2008 and A/Ck/CJava/Karanganyar/051/2009. Transmission experiments were carried out in four vaccine and two control groups, with six sets of 16 specified pathogen free (SPF) layer chickens. Birds were vaccinated at 4 weeks of age with one strain and challenge-infected with the homologous or heterologous strain at 8 weeks of age. No transmission or virus shedding occurred in groups challenged with the homologous strain. In the group vaccinated with the Karanganyar strain, high cross-HI responses were observed, and no transmission of the Sukabumi strain occurred. However, in the group vaccinated with the Sukabumi strain, cross-HI titres were low, virus shedding was not reduced, and multiple transmissions to contact birds were observed. This study showed large differences in cross-protection of two vaccines based on two different highly pathogenic H5N1 virus strains. This implies that extrapolation of in vitro data to clinical protection and reduction of virus transmission might not be straightforward.