The "AIDS Vaccine 2008" Conference was held in Cape Town, South Africa (October 13 to 16, 2008) and organized, under the aegis of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, by Dr. Lynn Morris (Chair of the Conference) National Institute of Communicable Diseases; Dr. Koleka Mlisana from CAPRISA, University KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, Dr. Glenda Gray from Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Dr. Carolyn Williamson from Institute of Infectious Diseses. and Molecular Medicine, UCT, Cape Town (Co-Chairs of the Conference). Since the first AIDS Vaccine conference, organized in Paris in 2000, this was the first time it was held outside of the U.S. and Europe, and involved nearly 1,000 participants. Besides three Plenary Sessions with ten state-of-the-art plenary lectures and one Keynote Lecture given by Dr. A.S. Fauci (Director of NIAID, NIH, USA), the Conference was organized in nine oral sessions, four poster discussion groups covering a wide spectrum of scientific information relating to HIV vaccine research and development. Moreover three Symposia, two Special Sessions, one Roundtable as well as two Debates were held, the latter focusing on current controversial topics. The conference opening was memorable for a number of reasons: among these was the presence of South Africa's new Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan who, in her first speech in a major forum as a senior member of the SA Government, affirmed that HIV causes AIDS, and that the search for a vaccine is of paramount importance to SA and the rest of the world. A scientific summary of the Conference is reported in the present article, divided into four major topics: (1) vaccine concepts and design; (2) T-cell immunology and innate immunity; (3) B-cell immunology, neutralizing antibodies and mucosal immunology; and (4) clinical trials.