Candidate human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccines focusing on T-cell induction, constructed as pTHr.HIVA DNA and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA).HIVA, were delivered in a heterologous prime-boost regimen. The vaccines were tested in several hundred healthy or HIV-1-infected volunteers in Europe and Africa. Whilst larger trials of hundreds of volunteers suggested induction of HIV-1-specific T-cell responses in <15 % of healthy vaccinees, a series of small, rapid trials in 12-24 volunteers at a time with a more in-depth analysis of vaccine-elicited T-cell responses proved to be highly informative and provided more encouraging results. These trials demonstrated that the pTHr.HIVA vaccine alone primed consistently weak and mainly CD4(+), but also CD8(+) T-cell responses, and the MVA.HIVA vaccine delivered a consistent boost to both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, which was particularly strong in HIV-1-infected patients. Thus, whilst the search is on for ways to enhance T-cell priming, MVA is a useful boosting vector for human subunit genetic vaccines.