Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea in children worldwide and diarrhoeal deaths in children in developing countries. Accelerated development and introduction of rotavirus vaccines into global immunisation programmes has been a high priority for many international agencies, including WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. Vaccines have been developed that could prevent the enormous morbidity and mortality from rotavirus and their effect should be measurable within 2-3 years. Two live oral rotavirus vaccines have been licensed in many countries; one is derived from an attenuated human strain of rotavirus and the other combines five bovine-human reassortant strains. Each vaccine has proven highly effective in preventing severe rotavirus diarrhoea in children and safe from the possible complication of intussusception. In developed countries, these vaccines could substantially reduce the number and associated costs of child hospitalisations and clinical visits for acute diarrhoea. In developing countries, they could reduce deaths from diarrhoea and improve child survival through programmes for childhood immunisations and diarrhoeal disease control. Although many scientific, programmatic, and financial challenges face the global use of rotavirus vaccines, these vaccines-and new candidates in the pipeline-hold promise to make an immediate and measurable effect to improve child health and survival from this common burden affecting all children.