The explosive technological advances in the fields of immunology and molecular biology in the last 5 years had an enormous impact on the identification of candidate vaccines against diseases, which until a few years ago seemed uncontrollable. Increased knowledge of the immune system has helped to define the mechanisms that underlie successful immunization and is now being exploited to develop improved versions of existing vaccines and new vaccines against emerging pathogens, tumors, or autoimmune diseases. An understanding of the mechanisms of action of novel adjuvants and the development of new vector and delivery systems will have a major impact on vaccine strategies. The use of DNA encoding antigens from pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and parasites as vaccines is a new approach that is receiving considerable attention. This and other innovative approaches, including vaccine production in plants, are appraised in this review. The successful eradication of smallpox and the imminent eradication of poliomyelitis by worldwide immunization campaigns provide positive examples of how the vaccine-mediated approach can lead to disease elimination; with the advent of new vaccines and improved delivery systems, there is no scientific reason why these successes cannot be repeated.