Recombinant Semliki Forest virus (rSFV) enables high-level, transient expression of heterologous proteins in vivo, and is believed to be a superior vector for genetic vaccination, compared with the conventional DNA plasmid. Nonetheless, the efficacy of rSFV-based vaccine in eliciting human immune responses has not been tested. We used a Trimera mouse model, consisting of lethally irradiated BALB/c host reconstituted with nonobese diabetes/severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID) bone marrow plus human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), to characterize the in vivo immune responses against rSFV-encoded human melanoma antigen MAGE-3. MAGE-3-specific antibody and cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) activity were detected by ELISA and 51Cr-release assay, respectively, and the responses were compared with those induced by a plasmid DNA vaccine encoding the same antigen. The results showed that rSFV vaccine could elicit human MAGE-3-specific antibody and CTL response in the Trimera mice, and the antitumor responses were more potent than those by plasmid DNA vaccination. This is the first report to evaluate human immune responses to an rSFV-based tumor vaccine in the Trimera mouse model. Our data suggest that rSFV vector is better than DNA plasmid in inducing protective immunity, and the Trimera model may serve as a general tool to evaluate the efficacy of tumor vaccines in eliciting human primary immune response in vivo.