Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) has been shown to respond to immunotherapeutic intervention, thus fostering continued interest in exploiting the ability of the immune system to recognise and eradicate renal malignancy. Considerable progress in the characterisation of tumour-associated antigens, coupled with the appreciation that dendritic cells act as master regulators of immunity and tolerance, has opened new possibilities for immunotherapeutic intervention against human cancer. However, in contrast to other tumour systems, clinically relevant antigens expressed by RCC have not yet been identified. Therefore, most RCC vaccine trials have employed unfractionated antigens derived from tumour cells, with the goal of eliciting T cell responses against many unknown antigens expressed by the tumour. The recent discovery of genes with critical roles in oncogenesis has facilitated the identification of novel, more universal targets that may make cancer vaccines more practical, applicable and, potentially, more effective. In addition, immunisation against tumour antigens can be combined with tumour stroma-associated targets, thereby exerting a synergistic antitumour effect. Continued identification of molecular targets, in concert with more effective vaccination protocols, is likely to produce vaccination strategies with clinical impact.