Prophylactic human papillomavirus (HPV) L1 virus like particle (VLP) vaccines have been shown, in large clinical trials, to be very immunogenic, well-tolerated and highly efficacious against genital disease caused by the vaccine HPV types. However these vaccines, at the present, protect against only two of the 15 oncogenic genital HPV types, they are expensive, delivered by intramuscular injection and require a cold chain. The challenges are to develop cheap, thermo-stable vaccines that can be delivered by non-injectable methods that provide long term (decades) protection at mucosal surfaces to most, if not all, oncogenic HPV types that is as good as the current VLP vaccines. Current approaches include L1 capsomers, L2 protein and peptides, delivery via recombinant L1 bacterial and viral vectors and large-scale VLP production in plants. Rational design and successful development of such vaccines will be based on an understanding of the immune response, and particularly the 'cross talk' between the innate and adaptive responses. This will be central in the development of adjuvants and vaccine formulations that induce the response to provide effective protection.