Inactivated vaccines require adjuvants to stimulate an immune response. The choice of adjuvant or immune enhancer determines whether the immune response is effective, ineffective or damaging. Accordingly, there is a need for new adjuvants that stimulate the appropriate immunity, for example, T cell immunity for intracellular pathogens and cancer vaccines. In several adjuvants, the identification of chemical groups that interact with specific cell toll-like receptors (innate immunity) or receptors for co-stimulatory ligands (adaptive immunity), has enabled the establishment of structure-function relationships that are useful in the design of new adjuvants. Because of the crucial immunomodulating role of adjuvants, sub-unit vaccine development will remain dependent on new adjuvants.