There is currently a need for vaccines that stimulate cell-mediated immunity-particularly that mediated by CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs)-against viral and tumor antigens. The optimal induction of cell-mediated immunity requires the presentation of antigens by specialized cells of the immune system called dendritic cells (DCs). DCs are unique in their ability to process exogenous antigens via the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I pathway as well as in their ability to activate naive, antigen-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. Vaccine strategies that target or activate DCs in order to elicit potent CTL-mediated immunity are the subject of intense research. We report here that whole recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast expressing tumor or HIV-1 antigens potently induced antigen-specific, CTL responses, including those mediating tumor protection, in vaccinated animals. Interactions between yeast and DCs led to DC maturation, IL-12 production and the efficient priming of MHC class I- and class II-restricted, antigen-specific T-cell responses. Yeast exerted a strong adjuvant effect, augmenting DC presentation of exogenous whole-protein antigen to MHC class I- and class II-restricted T cells. Recombinant yeast represent a novel vaccine strategy for the induction of broad-based cellular immune responses.