The identification of antigens that distinguish normal cells from cancer cells is an important challenge in the field of tumour immunology and immunotherapy. The immunoscreening of cDNA expression libraries constructed from human tumour tissues with antibodies in sera from cancer patents (SEREX: serological identification of antigens by recombinant expression cloning) provides a powerful approach to identify immunogenic tumour antigens. To date, over 2,000 tumour antigens have been identified from a variety of malignancies using SEREX. These antigens can be classified into several categories, of which the cancer/testis (CT) antigens appear to be the most attractive candidates for vaccine development. The SEREX-defined tumour antigens facilitate the identification of epitopes (antigenic peptides) recognised by antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and provide a basis for peptide vaccine and gene therapy in a wide variety of human cancers. Moreover, some of these antigens seem to play a functional role in the pathogenesis of cancer.