The introduction of DNA vaccine technology has facilitated an unprecedented multi-antigen approach to developing an effective vaccine against complex pathogens such as the Plasmodium spp. parasites that cause malaria. We have established the capacity of DNA vaccines encoding Plasmodium antigens to induce CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocyte and interferon-gamma responses in mice, monkeys and humans. However, like others, we have found that the first or second generation DNA vaccines on their own are not optimal, and have demonstrated the potential of heterologous prime/boost immunisation strategies involving priming with DNA and boosting with poxvirus or recombinant protein in adjuvant. In this review, we summarise the current status and promise of our programmatic efforts to develop a DNA-based vaccine against malaria, our Multi-Stage Malaria DNA Vaccine Operation, and illustrate the transition of promising developments in the laboratory to clinical assessment in humans.