Chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma due to chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection pose a major public health problem in highly endemic regions. Effective vaccines against HBV exist but more than 370 million people remain chronically infected with HBV For these patients there is a high risk to develop cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Currently available therapies fail to control viral replication in the long term in most patients. Viral persistence has been associated with a defect in the development of HBV specific cellular immunity. Strategies to boost or to broaden the weak virus-specific T-cell response of patients with chronic hepatitis B have been proposed as a means of curing this persistent infection. HBV envelope- and nucleocapsid-based vaccines, new formulations for recombinant vaccines and DNA-based vaccines are currently being assessed in clinical trials. Improvements are clearly required, but vaccination is likely to be the cheapest and potentially most beneficial treatment.